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UKZN Press

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A Kinship of Bones: Patricia Henderson’s Study of People Living with HIV/Aids in Rural KZN

A Kinship of BonesNew from UKZN Press, A Kinship of Bones: AIDS, Intimacy and Care in Rural KwaZulu-Natal by Patricia Henderson:

From 2003 to 2006 Patricia Henderson lived in Okhahlamba in the region of the Northern Drakensberg, where she recorded the experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS. In this illuminating study, she explores the local repertoires through which illness was folded into everyday life.

The book spans a period when anti-retroviral 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. The research implies the protracted interaction with people over time, and offers insights into the unfolding textures of everyday life, in particular its focus on suffering, social and structural inequality, illness, violence, mourning, sensibility, care and intimacy.

Praise for the book

“Taking the reader through landscapes of disease, devastation and hope, Henderson’s book is theoretically erudite without her philosophical observations overwriting the words of her respondents. She shows what fidelity means in the fields anthropologists cultivate.”
Veena Das, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University

“There is remarkably little in the literature on the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Southern Africa about practices of care and relationship. It is as though the disease renders social life impossible to think. In her careful account, Henderson shows how the social is constituted through aesthetic, emotional and embodied relationships of mutuality, and the world re-made in the face of grief and loss. The book is essential reading for all who would understand how ordinary worlds are crafted in the face of massive illness. Written in the interface between anthropology and philosophy, the book asks us to envisage the making of sociality in a world overwritten by technicist interpretations of life and death.”
Fiona Ross, Associate Professor, University of Cape Town

About the author

Patricia C. Henderson is a senior lecturer in anthropology at Rhodes University, has undertaken extensive research at the universities of KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town, and has also lectured anthropology at the universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town.

Book details


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