Risky Marriage


Risky Marriage: HIV and Intimate Relationships in Tanzania, Lexington Books, 2013



Given that women and girls carry the heaviest burdens of the African HIV pandemic, their lived experiences should be the starting point for any pedagogy of prevention. In light of this claim, this book project uses qualitative fieldwork with HIV positive women living in Mwanza, Tanzania to ask why marriage is an HIV risk factor. By beginning with women’s experience as a hermeneutical lens, this book seeks to establish a creative space where African women can imagine new alternatives to HIV prevention that would promote human flourishing and abundant life in African communities. The aim of this book is to listen faithfully to the lived experiences of HIV positive women and ask how their experiences can help us re-imagine Christian conceptions of marriage, sexual ethics, and health in an HIV positive world. By drawing on the unwritten texts of women’s lives, this study proposes alternative pedagogies for faith-based prevention methods and contributes to the wider interdisciplinary and theo-ethical discourse on HIV prevention and women’s health. At the same time, it also makes a local impact of equal importance as women in East African communities are invited to think creatively about ways to end the HIV pandemic.


Produced by Sema Films


Related Publications

“Epistemological Privilege and Collaborative Research: A Reflection on Researching as an Outsider,” (article & film) Practical Matters, (www.practicalmattersjournal.org), May 2013.

“Listening to the Particular through Action Research on HIV and AIDS,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Roundtable response on to “Charting the Paradigm Shifts in HIV Research: The Contribution of Gender and Religion Studies” by Sarojini Nadar and Isabel Phiri. Vol. 28, No. 2 (2012).

“HIV/AIDS Prevention and Sexed Bodies: Rethinking Abstinence in Light of the African AIDS Pandemic,” Theology and Sexuality, Vol. 15.1, 2009: 27-46.

“Risky Marriage” courtesy of Luiana Foibe Makundi
“Risky Marriage” courtesy of Luiana Foibe Makundi

Related Presentations

A Faithful Pedagogy of Prevention: Understanding Christian Marriage as both Risk and Hope, Taking Action for Health, Dignity and Justice: The Interfaith Pre-Conference on HIV, Howard University, Washington DC, July 20-21, 2012. HIV/AIDS and Marriage in East Africa, WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual) Teleconference, October 10, 2012.

 A Faithful Pedagogy of Prevention: Understanding Christian Marriage as both Risk and Hope, American Academy of Religion, Chicago, IL, November 17-20, 2012.

Panel Participant, Book Discussion: Religion and HIV and AIDS: Charting the Terrain, Edited by Beverley Haddad, 2011, Society of Biblical Literature, Chicago, IL, November 17-20, 2012.    

When Marriage Becomes Risky: A Theo-ethical Reflection on Christian Marriage in Light of the Experiences of HIV Positive Women in Tanzania, Society of Christian Ethics, New Orleans, LA, Jan. 8, 2011.

Confidentiality, Stigma and Risk: Listening to the Experiences of HIV Positive Women in Tanzania, Stritch School of Medicine Ethics Grand Rounds, Loyola University Chicago, Dec. 9, 2010.

Confidentiality, Stigma and Risk: Listening to the Experiences of HIV Positive Women in Tanzania, Emory University Center for Ethics, Dec. 6, 2010.
Women’s Agency and the African AIDS Pandemic: Reflections on Gender and Sacrifice by HIV Positive Women in Tanzania, American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, GA, Oct. 31, 2010.

Risking Life So That Life Will Go On: Understanding relational poverty and health in intimate relationships through the experiences of HIV positive women in Tanzania, Politics, Poverty and Prayer Conference: Global African Spiritualities and Social Transformation, Nairobi, Kenya, July 24, 2010.

Nature or Nurture? A theo-ethical evaluation of behavior-based vs. environmental approaches to preventing HIV and AIDS in East Africa, African Association for the Study of Religions, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Jan. 20, 2010.
Love and Sacrifice Through Cross-Cultural Lenses: The Boundaries of Self and Conceptions of Love for African Women, 17th European Conference on Philosophy of Religion, sponsored by the European Society for Philosophy of Religion, Oslo, Norway, Aug. 28-31, 2008.

The Social Landscape of Stigma: A Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of the African AIDS Pandemic, National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, Nashville, TN, May 18-20, 2008.

What Africa Has to Teach America: Finding Ways to Increase Compassion and Reduce Stigma in Light of the African HIV and AIDS Pandemic, African Association for the Study of Religions, Gaborone, Botswana, Southern Africa, July 8-13, 2007.

Related Grants & Awards

  • Loyola University Chicago Manuscript Publication Assistance Award, 2013
  • American Association of University Women American Fellowship, 2012-13
  • Loyola University Chicago – Arthur J. Schmitt Dissertation Fellowship, 2010-2011
  • Constant H. Jacquet Research Award (Religious Research Assoc.), 2010