Sanyu Mojola

Sanyu Mojola
Associate Professor

KTCH 268

Office Hours: Tuesdays: 4:30-5:30; Thursdays 2-3; by appointment



Sanyu A. Mojola (Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2008) is Associate Professor of Sociology. Her research examines how societies produce health and illness.  She is especially interested in understanding social processes, mechanisms and patterns of social organization that lead to health inequality related to gender, race/ethnicity, life course stage and socio-economic status.  Her past and ongoing work primarily focuses on the HIV/AIDS pandemic as it unfolds in various settings such as Kenya, the United States and South Africa.    

 Her first book, Love, Money and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS (California, 2014) examines why young African women have higher rates of HIV compared to young men.  The book engages the themes of gender, modernity, consumption and the transition to adulthood in a rich mixed methods study based in Kenya.   She explores the social processes that place young women on the brink of adulthood at great risk, while producing relative temporary safety for young men.  Specifically, she examines both micro-level processes – how desires for money, gifts, modernity and consumption become inextricably linked with intimate relationships - as well as macro-level processes - how the community, school, labor markets, and the ecological environment play a role in the production of consuming women.  She argues that the entanglement of love, money and young women’s transformation into “consuming women” lies at the heart of their disproportionate HIV rates.  The book won the 2015 Distinguished Book Award from the Sex and Gender Section of the American Sociological Association, was a 2015 finalist for the Bethwell A. Ogot Prize for Best Book on East African Studies from the African Studies Association, and won the 2016 Distinguished Scholarly Book Award from the American Sociological Association.  Her journal article publications relating to this project have appeared in a number of outlets including Social Science and Medicine, Signs, Continuum and Studies in Family Planning.  

Dr Mojola is currently writing her second book tentatively titled: Race, Health and Inequality: Producing an HIV Epidemic in the Shadow of the Capitol which is examining why African Americans in Washington D.C. are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.  The book explores the combined and historically contingent roles of migration, racial residential segregation, concentrated urban poverty, heroin and crack cocaine epidemics, the War on Drugs, and mass incarceration in shaping individual HIV vulnerability among African Americans living in Washington D.C.  Respondent life histories are woven throughout the book to illustrate how these larger social structural processes came to shape their individual choices, HIV acquisition, and their lives following diagnosis as they transitioned to older ages.  

Dr Mojola also serves as Principal Investigator of an NIA funded project called HIV after 40 in Rural South Africa: Aging in the Context of an HIV Epidemic.  The study is examining why HIV rates are so high among a largely neglected demographic group in HIV/AIDS research, middle aged and older adults aged 40-85.  South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world and a rapidly aging population. In recent years, with expanded availability of anti-retroviral therapy, many adults are aging with HIV, and further, increasing numbers are acquiring HIV at older ages.The HIV after 40 team draws on longitudinal and nested cross sectional survey data, as well as nested qualitative interview data to examine life course and contextual factors shaping individual HIV risk and protective behavior in the transition from middle to older ages.


Undergraduate Courses:

  • Sex, Gender and Society 1 (SOCY/WMST 1016)
  • Sociology of HIV/AIDS (SOCY 3042)
  • Cross Cultural Perspectives on Romantic Relationships (SOCY 4131)
  • Reconceiving Africa (SOCY 4131/HIST 4808)

Graduate Courses:

  • Logics of Qualitative Inquiry (SOCY 5181)
  • Gender and Health (SOCY 7171)
  • Sociology of HIV/AIDS (7171)