I conduct research on kinship in Botswana, in the context of one of the world's worst AIDS epidemics, and one of its most wide-ranging, long-standing public health and social welfare interventions. Drawing on extensive professional experience in non-governmental organisations and government agencies, my research links the anthropologies of kinship, public health, development, humanitarianism, and the state to seek novel perspectives on intransigent social issues and on social change.
From 2017 to 2020, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the European Research Council-funded project, A Global Anthropology of Transforming Marriage (PI Janet Carsten). I investigated how marriage in Botswana has changed during the country's AIDS epidemic, and what socio-political changes are sought and wrought through marriage in turn. Check out the website for our public exhibition, 'An Anthropology of Weddings: 5 Places, 50 Objects', here.
My monograph, Pandemic Kinship: Families, Intervention, and Social Change in Botswana's Time of AIDS is currently in press with the International African Library (Cambridge University Press). Challenging prevalent academic and policy assumptions about the breakdown of the family in the context of AIDS, it demonstrates that crisis and conflict constitute kin relationships, rather than disrupting or destroying them. Interventions launched in response to the epidemic frequently align well with kinship practice and ideals, but misread the creative potential for conflict, threatening to rework Tswana kinship and personhood in more profound ways than the epidemic itself. The monograph is based on my doctoral thesis, which was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and a Commonwealth Scholarship, and awarded the Outstanding Thesis Award for Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science (2015).
Future research plans include an ethnographic study of social work practice in Botswana, and the ways it manages and shapes change around the climate crisis - particularly through its interventions in families. I also plan to expand my work to include Canada, my home country, by conducting research on the ways in which kinship settles and unsettles Canada as a settler nation.
Kinship, marriage, care, crisis, HIV and AIDS, children and childhood, international development, humanitarianism, NGOs, social work, Botswana, Southern Africa