Contingency: Interpersonal and Historical Dependencies in HIV Care

  • Susan Reynolds Whyte
  • Godfrey Etyang Siu
Part of the Anthropology, Change and Development book series (ACD)


The word ‘uncertainty’ has many relatives, each opening particular analytical possibilities. Within the extended family, we might count: insecurity, indeterminacy, risk, ambiguity, ambivalence, obscurity, opaqueness, invisibility, mystery, confusion, doubtfulness, and scepticism. Some of its cousins seem to admit of positive potential: chance, possibility, subjunctivity, hope. Uncertainty and insecurity are the most prominent members of the family. We can think of uncertainty as a state of mind, and minding, when we are unable to predict the outcome of events or to know with assurance about something that matters to us. Insecurity, the lack of protection from danger, the weakness of arrangements to support us when adversity strikes, gives rise to uncertainty. Dealing with uncertainty is often about trying to make more secure, rather than simply trying to ascertain. And making more secure usually has to do with mobilizing resources in order to exert some degree of control. Both terms are broad and often used rather vaguely, without specifying the focus of uncertainty or the source of insecurity (Whyte 2009).


Global Fund Social Contingency Historical Contingency Free Treatment Mulago Hospital 
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© Susan Reynolds Whyte and Godfrey Etyang Siu 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Reynolds Whyte
  • Godfrey Etyang Siu

There are no affiliations available

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