‘We are seeing things’: Recognition, risk and reproducing kinship in Botswana's time of AIDS

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Abstract

This article explores the ways in which families are reproduced in Botswana's time of AIDS. It argues that conjugal relationships are transformed into kin relationships through a gradual process of recognition in which they become visible, spoken about and known to ever wider spheres of kin. For women, this process is often catalysed by pregnancy; for men, by marriage negotiations – and for both, recognition is key to self-making. However, every shift in recognition is risky and tenuous, even reversible, and marked by dikgang – ‘issues’, conflicts or crises – the negotiation of which is crucial to its kin- and self-making capacity. Tswana kinship and personhood, in other words, are constituted in crisis, making them both highly fraught and highly resilient. In this context, HIV becomes one of many risks entailed in intimacy and kin-making – suggesting one explanation for persistently high rates of HIV infection in Botswana, and indicating an unexpected capacity in families to absorb crises such as the AIDS epidemic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-60
Number of pages21
JournalAfrica
Volume89
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019

Keywords

  • kinship
  • marriage
  • pregnancy
  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • Botswana
  • recognition

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