Family biography, fertility and memory-making in an AIDS-affected South African site

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The critical challenges of AIDS and poverty in post-apartheid South Africa impact the ways in which memories are articulated and family and fertility histories ultimately constructed. This article considers three life histories written in the course of ethnographic work on women's childbearing conducted intermittently between 1998 and 2014, and typical of other histories in the same peri-urban locale. Personal accounts of a mother and her two daughters initially centre on domestic strife and adversity – and the family as a whole is represented as struggling and disunited. In the aftermath of the death of one of the daughters from AIDS in 2001, the memories and discourse are subtly reworked by the two women in ways that are meant to counteract stigma, reclaim dignity and defend the family. The paper focuses on reproductive dynamics and memory-making in a hardship-driven and AIDS-affected setting and on the ethnographer's endeavours in witnessing, interviewing and making sense of people's ‘intent’ and ‘the urge to forget, to go on living’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-121
Number of pages16
JournalHistory of the Family
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015


  • AIDS
  • Family biography
  • Fertility in South Africa
  • Life history
  • Memory
  • Traumatic experiences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Family biography, fertility and memory-making in an AIDS-affected South African site'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this