AIDS has devastated communities across southern Africa. In Lesotho, where a quarter of adults are infected, the wide-ranging implications of the disease have been felt in every family, disrupting key aspects of social life. In Infected Kin, Ellen Block and Will McGrath argue that AIDS is fundamentally a kinship disease, examining the ways it transcends infected individuals and seeps into kin relations and networks of care. While much AIDS scholarship has turned away from the difficult daily realities of those affected by the disease, Infected Kin uses both ethnographic scholarship and creative nonfiction to bring to life the joys and struggles of the Basotho people at the heart of the AIDS pandemic. The result is a book accessible to wide readership, yet built upon scholarship and theoretical contributions that ensure Infected Kin will remain relevant to anyone interested in anthropology, kinship, global health, and care.
Supplementary teaching materials are available at: https://www.csbsju.edu/sociology/anthropology-teaching-resources/useful-resources/infected-kin-teaching-resources
About the Author
Ellen Block is an assistant professor of anthropology in the department of sociology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.
Will McGrath is an award-winning writer and journalist. He has written for The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Foreign Affairs, the Christian Science Monitor, and Gastronomica. He is also the author of Everything Lost Is Found Again.
"Drawing on the authors’ in-depth experience in the small, landlocked southern African country of Lesotho comes this gem of a book—at once funny and sad, inspiring and sobering—that conveys the social consequences of HIV through a focus on orphans and their care. Beginning with the simple but powerful premise that AIDS is a kinship disease, Infected Kin combines gripping narrative and astute analysis to tell human stories that both capture and enlighten the reader."
— Daniel Jordan Smith
“This is a moving account of suffering, yes—but its riveting story includes joy and, above all, inspiration. The authors' narrative of love, labor, and loss in southern Africa weaves the charms of poetic prose (McGrath) with the insights of social science (Block). Together, they offer a lament for global inequality in the 21st century, while also celebrating the human spirit.” — Alma Gottlieb and Philip Graham,
"Recommended." — Choice
"This book is engaging and makes it suitable for a wide variety of readers. The inclusion of both anthropological and biomedical approaches to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lesotho makes this text equally valuable to students and practitioners outside of anthropology. Specifically, the sophisticated treatment of culture as intertwined (and cocreative) with HIV is an important antidote to the reductive treatment of culture as and either the cause of or barrier to eradicating HIV." — Journal of Social Encounters
"With Infected Kin, Block and McGrath have crafted a clear and concise contribution to the anthropological literature on the southern African HIV/AIDS epidemic."