Fall/Winter Timetable

POL482H1F L0101

Graduate Course Code: POL2482H1F L0101

The Politics of Disease and Epidemic


This class examines how disease and epidemics intersect with political issues and broader processes of development by focusing in on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. The class focuses on particular on the mutual interactions between disease on the one hand, and the social, political and economic fabric and structures of ordinary people’s lives on the other. We will also consider how governments and other political actors (both national and international) have responded to epidemic, and how those responses have frequently been politically informed, not least by the politics of race. Much of the current literature on HIV/AIDS is focused on South Africa, as well as Uganda, and this is reflected in the readings assigned for the course but students will be encouraged to develop an in depth understanding of the course of epidemic in a distinct country of their own choosing. Together in the class we will explore a range of frameworks for thinking about the interaction between society and epidemic, including political and moral economy frameworks, the roles of individuals, communities, governments, as well as the deployment and creation of communities and discourses.


Will include Alex de Waal, AIDS and Power; Susan Sontag, AIDS and its metaphors; Helen Epstein, The Invisible Cure, and Hein Marais, Buckling.

Format and Requirements

Course evaluation will include at least two written submissions and active, informed participation in class discussions.


POL 201Y1 or (POLB90H3 or POLB91H3) and minimum 14 credits