Making New Metaphors for AIDS

22 July, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Gerry Kearns
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Metaphors may be harmful or helpful, but they are probably inevitable where people wish to draw attention to social or medical issues. In this paper, I discuss the role of metaphor within epidemiology, and the work of artists and cultural activists both in challenging and crafting alternative metaphors about HIV/AIDS.


Two new PhD graduates

Congratulations to Drs Singumbe Muyeba and Annabelle Wienand, who graduated with PhDs at UCT on 13th June 2014. Annabelle's PhD examines representations of AIDS in South African photography. Singumbe's PhD examines the effects of property ownership on poverty in Cape Town (South Africa) and Lusaka (Zambia), using both quantitative and qualitative data.

Dr Annabelle Wienand (right), with her supvisor, Prof Nicoli Nattrass (centre) and CSSR Director, Prof Jeremy Seekings.

A PhD, a book, and a UCT book award for ASRU

Annabelle Wienand, Nicoli Nattrass and Rebecca Hodes celebrate academic milestones for the AIDS and Society Research Unit. Wienand's thesis, about the representation of HIV in South African photography, was completed recently. Hodes's book Broadcasting the Pandemic: HIV on South African Television (HSRC, Cape Town, 2014) was launched at the Book Lounge on 3 June 2014, and Nattrass was awarded the UCT book award for the second time, for The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back (Columbia University Press, New York, 2013).

Workshop on Social Protection in Africa

Thirty scholars from all over South Africa, as well as Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania, gathered in the CSSR on 29/30 May for a two-day workshop on Social Protection in Africa.

Leila Patel (former Director-General in the South African Department of Welfare, and now Professor at the University of Johannesburg) gave a talk reflecting on "development social welfare", which she championed in the 1990s. Sarah Brooks (Professor at Ohio State University in the USA) presented her preliminary quantitative analysis of  cross-national data on conditional and unconditional cash transfers, explaining why some countries adopted the former and others the latter.

A series of panels focused on the implementation and local politics of social grants in South Africa, theoretical issues around grants, justice and distribution, the early history of social grants in South Africa between the 1920s and 1950s, the politics of policy reform in Uganda and Tanzania, and the politics of reform in Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. The workshop programme is attached here.

Rajen Govender's recent publications

Rajen Govender - an Associate Professor in the CSSR and Sociology Department - has published three co-authored papers already in 2014. Myers, Petersen, Kader, Koch, Manderscheid, Govender and Parry, "Identifying perceived barriers to monitoring service quality among substance abuse treatment providers in South Africa", was published in BMC Psychiatry in February. Kader, Seedat, Govender, Koch and Parry, "Hazardous and harmful use of alcohol and/or other drugs and health status among South African patients attending HIV clinics" was published in Aids and Behaviour in March. Bowen, Govender and Edwards, "Structural Equation Modeling of Occupational Stress in the Construction Industry" was published in the Journal of  Construction Engineering and Management in May.

Voting Without a Co-ethnic: Ethnic Proximity and Coloured Voting Preferences

20 May, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Adam Harris (visiting PhD student, New York University)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Much of the ethnic politics and African politics literatures repeatedly find that people vote for their co-ethnics. These literatures are generally silent on the role ethnicity plays for those who do not have a co-ethnic candidate for whom to vote and often implicitly assumes ethnicity does not matter for such individuals' political behaviour. However, on average, 40% Africans, on average, will face a presidential election in which they have no co-ethnic candidate. How does ethnicity influence these voters' preferences? This paper uses the concept of ethnic proximity along the dimensions of language, race, religion, and region to understand the behaviour of such voters. This paper is part of a larger project that is the first to seriously conceptualize and operationalize ethnicity as continuous. I measure ethnic proximity for the Coloured population in South Africa and find that racial proximity to candidates significantly predicts the voting preferences of members of this ethnic group. 

Rebecca Hodes' new book Broadcasting the Pandemic

CSSR researcher Dr Rebecca Hodes' new book has just been published. Broadcasting the Pandemic analyses Beat It!, the television show that served to educate the public about AIDS. The book explores the links between AIDS activism, the media and public policy. Broadcasting the Pandemic is published by HSRC Press. The book will be launched at the Book Lounge at 6 pm on Tuesday 3 June. Rebecca will discuss the book with Lucilla Blankenberg (Director of the Community Media Trust) and UCT's Professor Deborah Posel.

Choosing care: Narratives of Interference

13 May, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Nicole Daniels ((CSSR/Sociology)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

While the literature on home birth emphasises women’s capacity to relate to birth in deeply meaningful terms, less attention has been paid to ‘interferences’ in this process. The extent to which women’s birthing needs are met relates to their capacity to make meaningful birth choices. By drawing on four case studies of South African home birthers, this paper examines the kinds of care which generate a sense of containment and continual relationship for birthing women, despite interference. Where home births validate and affirm the psycho-social nature of relational birthing subjects; being supported, being seen and being heard, translates into a social environment of care. Subjective interpretations of what matters most, narrated by home birthers in relationship with partners and caregivers, describe social environments which uphold safety, intimacy, connection, and agency. Homes are not controlled environments, so the inconsistency between narrated birth and actual birth experiences offers an interesting vantage point on the social contexts that generate empowered birthing selves. The care afforded home birthers allows them to create and maintain safe birth spaces, even as homes - bridges of public/private divides - intrude on relational selves. This research adds to an understanding of the consequences of women’s birth choices. By foregrounding interference, this paper highlights that choices (contested as they are) remain fundamental to women’s experiences of birth.

Discussion on the "Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry" into Policing in Khayelitsha.

6 May, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Adam Armstrong (CSSR/GroundUp) and Sebastian Saborio (visiting PhD student, University of Urbino)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Just as the Marikana Commission has put public order policing under a spotlight, the O'Regan Commission on policing in Khayelitsha is subjecting routine policing to unprecedented scrutiny. Adam has attended almost every session of the Commission to date, filing almost daily reports for GroundUp - the online community media site run by the CSSR at UCT and the Community Media Trust (see Sebastian is a visiting PhD student, writing his PhD on policing poor neighbourhoods in Rio da Janeiro and Cape Town. He spent several months embedded with the police in Rio's favelas, and is now attending the Khayelitsha Commission to see how Cape Town is policed. 

Insecure Democracy: Risk, Vulnerability and Democratic Rights in Brazil

29 April, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Sarah Brooks (Ohio State)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Latin American nations have undergone dramatic transitions to democracy and open markets in recent decades. Such changes have exposed citizens to high levels of economic volatility and insecurity, while at the same time expanding the possibilities for citizens to hold governments to account and to demand compensation for such hardships. Recent research indicates that even as economic insecurity has risen and social insurance programs have been retrenched, civil society in Latin America has remained relatively quiescent, with low levels of political participation. This paper tests the hypothesis that insecurity (defined as exposure to risk and lack of adequate means to hedge that risk) has a dampening effect on citizens’ propensity to engage in different forms of political life, such as attending municipal meetings and neighborhood organizations, and engaging in protest. Data from a 2009 nation-wide survey in Brazil reveal that individuals who have access to more extensive means of risk protection, all else being equal, are systematically more likely to participate actively in the more moderate and sustained forms of democratic politics, such as neighborhood associations and municipal meetings. This is not the case for protest activity, however, which is likely to entail very different calculations of risk and reward. The results of the analysis are preliminary, but indicate a sharp cleavage of insecurity that coincides with widening fault lines of political engagement in Brazil.

The politics of cash transfers in Uganda

15 April, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Eduard Grebe (CSSR)
Rm 4.29, Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

This paper reviews the politics of welfare policy-making in Uganda, specifically as it relates to planning, gaining political support for, financing, implementing and scaling up cash transfer schemes. Uganda is a low-income country, but has made substantial developmental strides since the Museveni/NRM regime came to power in 1986, including relatively high rates of economic growth and reductions in poverty. However, chronic poverty persists and a large proportion of the non-poor are classified as vulnerable. Development policy has, and continues to be, focused on infrastructure development and facilitating private sector growth (earning Uganda darling status among proponents of the ‘Washington consensus’). But it has also adopted some pro-poor policies like substantial increases in social expenditure (principally health and education). Social protection has, however, lagged behind other developmental interventions and cash transfers are a recent phenomenon, with the first large-scale pilot being implemented from 2010. The Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment scheme (a pilot social pension and vulnerable families grant) has been implemented in fourteen districts with strong donor support. The scheme is largely funded by DfID, enjoys substantial donor technical support and followed an extensive agenda-setting and promotion exercise by donors and their civil society allies. National rollout of a social pension is firmly on the policy agenda and appears to have gained strong support in recent years (especially among legislators who see electoral advantages and sections of the bureaucracy) and is popular among the public. But sections of the Ugandan political elite remain sceptical, owing to concerns over ‘dependency’, adverse incentives, affordability and sustainability. Given the authoritarian, patronage-based and personalised character of the Museveni regime, presidential support for scale-up is seen as key, but Museveni’s support remains uncertain. While previous pro-poor initiatives appeared to have been driven by electoral pressures, the NRM has never faced a substantial electoral challenge and institutional reforms appear to have stalled. The paper concludes that donor-driven promotion of cash transfers has been surprisingly effective, but that the future of cash transfers are by no means ensured. Questions over political support, resource availability and technical capacity to implement a national programme remain.

Mellon Foundation extends its support to the CSSR

The CSSR was established in 2001-02 in large part due to the strong support of the Andew W. Mellon Foundation, to build capacity in the collection and analysis of quantitative social science data. We are delighted that the Mellon Foundation has now given the CSSR a third substantial award to help us to continue our work. The new award, covering the period from mid-2014 to mid-2017, will enable us to promote exchanges between researchers using quantitative data and researchers using qualitative material. Specifically, the award will support the establishment of a new research unit within the CSSR focused on families, kin and relationships, as well as supporting our annual Summer School.

Gabby Kelly wins prestigious fellowship at Yale

Gabby Kelly, who is a PhD student in the CSSR and Sociology Department, has won a prestigious Fox Fellowship at Yale. Gabby will spend the 2014-15 academic year at Yale, working on her PhD on doctors and the administration of disability grants in South Africa. A steady stream of CSSR-based students have won Fox Fellowships at Yale. These include: Brendan Maughan-Brown (now a post-doc in SALDRU at UCT); Ed Grebe and Singumbe Muyeba (both currently post-docs in the CSSR), Colin Almeleh and Duncan Pieterse. Some preliminary results from Gabby's research were published as CSSR Working Paper no 330 (2013).

Rebecca Hodes: In the thick of a Ugandan hate rally

Dr Rebecca Hodes, a CSSR postdoctoral research fellow, has written a report on a rally in Kampala at which 30 000 people gathered in support of the recently-passed Anti-Homosexuality Act.

“There is a fundamental misunderstanding between us and the liberal west. They say that homosexuality is sex. But it is not sex.” These were President Yoweri Museveni’s introductory remarks at the national rally in support of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, organised by the Interreligious Council of Uganda, and held at Kololo stadium on 31 March.

Museveni continued: “There are other words (in Luganda) for sex. I won’t tell you those words.” The crowd laughed, enjoying the coy omission. “But if you take homosexuality, they (the Ugandan people) don’t call it ‘sex’. They call it ekifire.” A neighbour wearing a Ugandan flag on her head translated: “It means they are half-dead, yet they are still living.”

Read the full report on Daily Maverick.