In Francophone West Africa, bilateral and multilateral HIV prevention focuses on combating stigma, increasing awareness, and encouraging safer sexual practices, especially through the use of mass media. This approach works in the service of neoliberal mandates to produce African consumers and to frame the HIV epidemic as an issue to be addressed largely through rational individual choice and integration into commercial markets. The behavior change it promotes and represents relies on securing female reproductive heterosexuality and the family. The melodramatic mode has proven vital to such efforts, for example, in the soap opera SIDA dans la cité (AIDS in the City, Radiodiffusion-Télévision Ivoirienne, 1995, 1996–97, 2003), which consisted of three series produced by the US-based Population Services International (PSI) in Côte d'Ivoire. To the extent that AIDS in the City draws from the techniques and tropes of Hollywood melodrama, Anglo-American feminist film criticism provides useful critical frameworks for reading the series, even as such readings necessitate a broadening of the terms of aesthetic and political debates around melodrama and African media, as well as complicate Anglo-American feminist attempts to recuperate the melodrama as a quintessentially American mode.
Christine Cynn; AIDS in the City: Melodrama and the Social Marketing of HIV Prevention in Francophone West Africa. Camera Obscura 1 May 2017; 32 (1 (94)): 33–61. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-3776857
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