The book begins by illustrating the profound crisis of liberation felt by the poor of South Africa, who won the struggle against the apartheid system, only to find themselves in worse living conditions and confronting an epidemic of unparalleled proportions in the post-apartheid era. Rather than attributing this crisis to the cronyism or corruption of a postcolonial state, the chapter argues that the post-apartheid state confronted a “postcolonial paradox” – which entails a simultaneous need to respect the demands of neoliberal capital in order to compete successfully on the world market and a responsibility to redress entrenched inequality, secure legitimacy from the poor, and forge a national imaginary. The chapter explains how HIV/AIDS became the primary venue through which the post-apartheid state has attempted to resolve these contradictions. As such, this chapter provides a theoretical frame for the more detailed analyses made throughout the book.
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