Thesis: Cultural encounters of the secular kind: Religious and secular dynamics in the development response to HIV/AIDS – Brenda Bartelink

Posted by Share-Net NL on April 7, 2016 at 7:09 am

When religious leaders or organisations dismiss condom or contraceptive use, or speak out against homosexuality this is sometimes seen as a sign of conservatism. Based on research on how Christian development organisations from the Netherlands and Uganda cooperate in the prevention of HIV/AIDS, Brenda Bartelink concludes that contestations around religion and sexuality should also be seen in the context of a cultural encounter between organisations that draw on divergent sources of power.

The thesis studies the Educaids network, in which Dutch organisations introduced a comprehensive approach to sexuality education in the education sector via Christian organizations in Uganda. Central to this approach are young peoples autonomous choices for methods of prevention based on full information and access to services. While both Dutch and Ugandan organisations design education campaigns with a Christian motivation, religious and moral dilemmas around sexuality education only received marginal attention. Ugandan organisations were expected to adhere to a secular liberal approach of sexuality in their HIV/AIDS prevention programmes, while Dutch organisations had the power to continue or withdraw funding for future programmes. In response Ugandan organisations used cultural and religious arguments to critique certain aspects of comprehensive sexuality education, such as condom use or sexual diversity. This critique served to limit the influence of Dutch organisations as well as to confirm of a morally right position. Therefore the case of Educaids demonstrates that resistance against condom use or homosexuality must be seen in the context of negotiations between unequal counterparts whose positions are informed by specific cultural repertoires and access to sources of power.

Author: B.E. Bartelink
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