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AIDS, Intimacy and Care in Rural KwaZulu-Natal

AIDS, Intimacy and Care in Rural KwaZulu-Natal: A Kinship of Bones

Patricia C. Henderson
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    AIDS, Intimacy and Care in Rural KwaZulu-Natal
    Book Description:

    In 2003-2006, Patricia Henderson lived in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal where she recorded the experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS. In this illuminating study, she recounts the concerns of rural people and explores local repertoires through which illness was folded into everyday life. The book spans a period when antiretroviral medication was not available, and moves on to a time when the treatment became accessible. Hope gradually became manifest in the recovery of a number of people through antiretroviral therapies and 'the return' of bodies they could recognise as their own. This research implies that protracted interaction with people over time, offers insights into the unfolding textures of everyday life, in particular in its focus on suffering, social and structural inequality, illness, violence, mourning, sensibility, care and intimacy. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1497-7
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-12)
    Patricia C. Henderson
  4. Preface
    (pp. 13-16)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 17-40)

    From March 2003 to February 2006, I lived in Okhahlamba, a portion of the uThukela District in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. I had come to this mountainous region abutting the northern Drakensberg (Dragon’s Mountain) to record the experiences of people living in a context of HIV and AIDS among African communities in the Ngwane and Zizi chieftaincies, and adjoining African freehold settlements. I hoped that whatever I came to write would reflect the concerns of rural people and would pay close attention to local ways in which the illness, through time, was folded into everyday life, as well...

  6. 1 The Vertiginous Body and Social Metamorphosis
    (pp. 41-58)

    In 2001, Andries Botha, a South African artist, contributed a work to an exhibition on AIDS at the South African National Gallery. On close inspection, the piece, ‘Rupture’, proved to be a rendering of human skin. The curators of the exhibition, Kyle Kauffman and Marilyn Martin, wrote that it was a:

    landscape of the body. There are bruises and veins that appear as stark and defoliated trees. The work … emphasizes the bruised and battered skin of the body. It evokes notions of illness, abuse, decline and disintegration: a rupture. (Kauffman & Martin, exhibition catalogue, 2001: 6-7)

    Botha’s depiction of...

  7. 2 Mortality and the Ethics of Ethnographic Research
    (pp. 59-82)

    I wish to sketch briefly the reception of individual deaths in the neighbourhoods in which I came to know people, to create an awareness of the effects of the multiplication of deaths within the society of the living; the ways in which death casts shadows amongst those who survive; the ways in which a preponderance of death is deeply disturbing to people ’ s sense of the world and its proper construction. In the previous chapter, I dealt with how the particular forms of death attendant upon AIDS – preceded as they are by protracted, corporeal suffering, and attached to notions...

  8. 3 Children and Youth in Pursuit of Care
    (pp. 83-104)

    I now turn to the lives of young people who lost one or both parents, many to the HIV and AIDS epidemic, in the Amatikwe neighbourhood of Okhahlamba. In doing so, I trace the ways in which the young people themselves often sought relationships of care with adults, including relatives and neighbours. A focus on everyday life enables an appreciation of the multiple and varied nature of the young people’s lives and begins through a description of their relationships; a description that is at odds with the assumptions of passivity and unmitigated vulnerability circulating in discourse concerning ‘AIDS orphans’.¹


  9. 4 Healers Negotiating the Local and the Global
    (pp. 105-126)

    In Okhahlamba, death attendant upon AIDS was not perceived as the outcome of a neutral affliction for which there was no cure. Rather, death, on the scale with which it came to dwell among people, was tied up with the notion of a continuance of past social dissonance and histories of oppression, racial discrimination and dispossession.¹ This chapter explores these understandings of a preponderance of death and illness, and how they intertwined with people’s relationship with the state.

    I approach the latter relationship tangentially by marking the ambiguities with which modernity was viewed from the point of view of two...

  10. 5 Love in a Time of Adversity
    (pp. 127-152)

    This chapter narrates the love story of two HIV positive people, Ntombikayise Dladla and Olwethu Njabulo Bhengu. Depicting how they came to desire one another and how their courtship negotiated the discovery of the affliction they held in common, it suggests the implosive presence of HIV and AIDS within a relationship, and yet indicates how they upheld their wish to embrace life. Despite being ill, they insisted on the completion of drawn-out marriage negotiations.¹ Neither Ntombikayise nor Njabulo came from wealthy families. The completion of a marriage held the possibility of respected personhood in the face of poverty and illness,...

  11. 6 On Accompanying the Ill
    (pp. 153-180)

    In 1994, following the first democratic elections, the new South African state sought to create a unitary public healthcare system. It was to be a particularly daunting task, given the uneven, discriminatory and inequitable structures that had been inherited from the apartheid state. Out of a number of parallel and racialized health services, the new state planned to bring together and yet to decentralize health delivery across national, provincial, district and community levels of organization. Resources and services were to be distributed between the different organizational levels in order to provide a ‘continuum of care’ for patients through various forms...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 181-186)

    The book has drawn attention to care as a form of hospitality offered between the relatively well and the ill and dying in Okhahlamba. Forms of care were described in relation to a particular kind of illness,lesisifo, more broadly referred to as HIV and AIDS, that has come to dwell among people in ways that compromise so much of social life and yet that call for its reconstitution. The simultaneous unravelling and remaking of sociality across the boundaries of the living and the dead made up the parameters of care in the region.

    Care and its opposite were found...

  13. Appendix: Interlocutors and Research Methods
    (pp. 187-192)
  14. Acronyms
    (pp. 193-194)
  15. Glossary
    (pp. 195-200)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 201-224)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-242)
  18. Index
    (pp. 243-254)