Barbara Browning follows the trail of "infectious rhythm" from the ecstatic percussion of a Brazilian carnival group to the eerily silent video image of the LAPD beating a man like a drum. Throughout, she identifies the metaphoric strain of contagion which both celebrates the diasporic spread of African culture, and serves as the justification for its brutal repression.
The essays in this book examine both the vital and violent ways in which recent associations have been made between the AIDS pandemic and African diasporic cultural practices, including religious worship, music, dance, sculpture, painting, orature, literature and film. While pointing to the lengthy and complex history of the metaphor of African contagion, Browning argues that in its politicized, life-affirming embodiment, the figure might actually teach us to respond to epidemia humanely.
Barbara Browning is Associate Professor of Performance Studies at New York University. She is the author of Samba: Resistance in Motion.
"Infectious Rhythm fills an important gap in the literature on AIDS and international race relations. In a style as lyrical as it is tough-minded, Browning offers a brilliant reading of figures of transmission, both viral and cultural. This eloquent book provides the most powerful testimony yet to how metaphors of seepage and contamination are, from the outset, expresssions of social fear and political anxiety." -- Diana Fuss
"Browning is a clear writer and a creative thinker who eschews postmodern jargon to a large degree, even while elaborarting on concepts at the movement's core." -- Journal of Cultural Geography, Steven C. Dinero, Philadelphia College