"Life in Brackets": Biographical Uncertainties of HIV-Positive Women in South Africa

Marian Burchardt


As South Africa is witnessing a maturing AIDS epidemic, the experience and impact of the disease are written ever more firmly into the biographical self-constructions of the infected. In this article, I explore typical strategies of dealing with uncertainties arising from new challenges, after the shock of ontological insecurity ensuing from the diagnosis, has been overcome. The analysis is based on contrasting interpretations of problem-centered biographical interviews with HIV-positive South African women. In the process, results have been formulated in terms of hypotheses regarding links between biographical situatedness and strategies of action. The hypotheses have been validated through case comparisons. The article highlights personal transformation, social support and the search for normality as key aspects for understanding these strategies and spells out how these are enabled, constrained and shaped within the social domains of religion, AIDS activism and township youth culture.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs100135


biography; uncertainty; AIDS; religion; South Africa; healing; identity

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Copyright (c) 2010 Marian Burchardt

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.