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"HIV is God's Blessing"

Rehabilitating Morality in Neoliberal Russia

Jarrett Zigon (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 280 pages
ISBN: 9780520267640
December 2010
$34.95, £27.00
Other Formats Available:
This provocative study examines the role of today’s Russian Orthodox Church in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Russia has one of the fastest-growing rates of HIV infection in the world—80 percent from intravenous drug use—and the Church remains its only resource for fighting these diseases. Jarrett Zigon takes the reader into a Church-run treatment center where, along with self-transformational and religious approaches, he explores broader anthropological questions—of morality, ethics, what constitutes a “normal” life, and who defines it as such. Zigon argues that this rare Russian partnership between sacred and political power carries unintended consequences: even as the Church condemns the influence of globalization as the root of the problem it seeks to combat, its programs are cultivating citizen-subjects ready for self-governance and responsibility, and better attuned to a world the Church ultimately opposes.

Part I: Backgrounds
1. HIV, Drug Use, and the Politics of Indifference
2. The Church’s Rehabilitation Program
3. The Russian Orthodox Church, HIV, and Injecting Drug Use
4. Moral and Ethical Assemblages
5. Synergeia and Simfoniia: Orthodox Morality, Human Rights, and the State
6. Working on the Self

Part II: Practices
7. Enchurchment
8. Cultivating a Normal Life
9. Normal Sociality: Obshchenie and Controlling Emotions
10. Disciplining Responsibility: Labor and Gender

Some Closing Words
Jarrett Zigon is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. He is the author of Morality: An Anthropological Perspective and Making the New Post-Soviet Person: Moral Experience in Contemporary Moscow.
“A provocative and clearly argued work . . . . Anthropologists interested in morality and ethics will find theoretical resources in its pages. And readers interested in the Russian Orthodox Church and its social positions and campaigns will gain new insights from this book.”—Somatosphere
“This is a fascinating book on an important topic.”—Erin Koch Slavic Review
"Zigon's ethnography provides a fascinating window onto the concrete processes through which people undergoing rehabilitation for drug addiction are remade as moral persons. This book adeptly combines ethnographically-based descriptions with forays into theology and Soviet history to deliver a compelling account of self-transformation in a contemporary Russian Orthodox milieu."—Eugene Raikhel, University of Chicago

"Over the last decade, anthropologists have increasingly come to study the role of morality in shaping the course of social life. Within anthropological debates around morality, Zigon has been developing one of the most creative and challenging positions. In this book, he pushes his project to a whole new level, working it out carefully through an important ethnographic case. Those interested in morality in any field will want to read this striking exemplification of the way an anthropology of morality can help us think about social life in new ways."—Joel Robbins, University of California, San Diego

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