Professor Bishnupriya Ghosh

12 September, 2017 - 12:45 to 14:00
Blood in the File: Living Archives of HIV/AIDS Epidemics
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 My talk draws on my current book project, The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media, which eschews a “global history of AIDS” (a timeline that is organized around the medical triumph of 1995) for a global archaeology. In resource-rich settings, HIV infection is now a privately lived medical condition; but this is hardly the case in resource-constrained settings of the global South in which neither optimal resource allocation or management of care is assured. In distinction from a global pandemic, then, I argue for the heterogeneous space-times that constitute HIV/AIDS epidemics all over the world. My specific emphases fall on post-1996 U.S., post-1992 India, and post-1998 South Africa as three major economies of survival (as Marc Abélès characterizes them, in The Politics of Survival, 2010). At stake is an archaeological approach that assembles “epidemic media”—blood samples and drugs to art installations and media campaigns—within a comparative framework that refuses equivalencies between these epidemic space-times.
For this seminar, I’ll focus on the “medical file” as media technology that classifies and sequences HIV/AIDS blood pictures. With reference to Cornelia Visemann’s critically acclaimed Files: Laws and Media Technology (2008), I examine the sequencing of chronic infection in medical files: specifically, files stored at the Humsafar Trust offices in Mumbai (serving socially vulnerable Transgender and MSM communities). The “blood pictures” stored and transmitted in those files articulate biological (of patients), clinical (of lab technician, nurse, doctor, health counselor) and social labors (of health workers, activists, caregivers) together; in other words, they illuminate the scientific-technological and collective-popular labors of survival. In the larger scheme, what stories do the blood pictures convey? Zooming out from this particular instance, I characterize these medical file repositories as provisional “living archives” that create new orders of affective association, orders that finally mobilize hitherto under-theorized blood archives of the HIV/AIDS epidemics.

Presenter Biography
With a doctorate from Northwestern University, Bishnupriya Ghosh teaches global media studies, postcolonial theory, and 21st literatures at UC Santa Barbara’s Department of English.  She has published two books: a first monograph on the market for world literatures, When Borne Across: Literary Cosmopolitics in the Contemporary Indian Novel (Rutgers UP, 2004), and a second, on the global traffic in iconic images of famous figures, entitled Global Icons: Apertures to the Popular (Duke UP, 2011). She is currently working on a third monograph, The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media, and a co-edited collection, The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk (with Bhaskar Sarkar). Both projects emerge from research/programming initiatives on risk and media (at UCHRI, Cornell University, UC Santa Barbara).

FasRU publication update

Elena Moore has published an article in Agenda, as part of a special issue on Intersectionality. The article, “Centring the intersection of race, class, and gender when a customary marriage ends” was co-authored by Prof. Chuma Himonga, the NRF Chair in Customary Law, Indigenous Values and Human Rights. The article is available here, and the abstract is below:


FaSRU researcher & PhD student, Lwando Scott, publishes article in Agenda

Congratulations to FaSRU researcher and PhD candidate, Lwando Scott, for publishing an article, “Disrupting Johannesburg Pride: Gender, race, and class in the LGBTI movement in South Africa” in Agenda. Lwando is
undertaking a PhD on same sex marriage in South Africa. Using queer theory as a lens his thesis examines same-sex marriage in South Africa. The central question that underpins this research project is why do same-sex couples marry
What is attractive about the institution of marriage to same-sex couples? His thesis critiques the normativity debate of the late 1990’s represented by Sullivan (1995) and Warner (2000). Whereas Sullivan is pro marriage and the normalising of gay people, Warner is against marriage and the normalising of gay people. The normalising versus transgressive binary is used a starting

FaSRU Workshop on Intergenerational Relations and Social Grants

Last week, The Families and Societies Research Unit at the Centre for Social Science Research hosted a very successful one-day workshop on the relationship and interaction between social grants and the social assistance program more broadly and intra/inter-household dynamics and familial responsibility. The workshop was supported by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development. The workshop was attended by 12 participants coming from all over South Africa and included several presentations from PhD and postdoctoral students.  

Thinking Historically about the “Black Tax”: Gender, Schooling, and Race in Umlazi Township

11 April, 2017 - 12:45 to 14:00
Professor Mark Hunter
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

In the 2010s the term “black tax” became widely used to describe the unceasing claims of family members on the incomes of working black South Africans. There are various ways to contextualize the term’s recent use, including examining its connections to the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements. Yet this talk develops a historical viewpoint exploring the contested ways in which money and emotions became attached to formal education—as schooling itself increasingly became necessary to secure employment. Focused on Umlazi in the 1960s, the talk emphasizes gendered family dynamics surrounding schooling in this newly built apartheid township located on the outskirts of Durban. It shows the particular efforts that mothers made to school their children—despite and indeed because of apartheid’s oppressive educational and urban policies. In the face of increasingly insecure intimate relations, a booming economy, and expanded basic education, mothers’ attention to their children’s and grandchildren’s education grew in importance and scale: education required sacrifices but promised children’s eventual support.

Presenter biography: Mark Hunter is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Toronto and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has degrees from the Universities of Sussex (B.A. hons), KwaZulu-Natal (Masters) and University of California-Berkeley (PhD). He is the author of Love in the Time of AIDS: Inequality, Gender, and Rights in South Africa (Indiana and KwaZulu-Natal University Presses) and is currently completing a book on schooling, families and class in Durban. 

FaSRU researcher, Nicole Daniels, publishes article

Congratulations to FaSRU researcher and PhD candidate, Nicole Daniels, for publishing an article, ‘Doing Homebirth Like a Man” in the Journal of Gender Studies. Nicole’s article is based on her Master’s research which explored the homebirth narratives of middle-class South African couples. The article explores the intersections between South African men’s narratives of homebirth and constructions of masculinity by posing two specific questions: Do men’s narratives of homebirth reproduce or subvert normative ideals and modes of masculinity? How does the experience of homebirth potentially interrupt normative ideas about being a man and how do men negotiate competing discourses of masculinity in their narratives? To access the article, click on the link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09589236.2017.1301811

Divorce, Families and Emotion Work 'Only Death Will Make Us Part'









A  new book by Senior Lecturer Dr Elena Moore pays attention to the oft-neglected emotional, relational and familial aspects of post-divorce everyday family practices.

Divorce, Families and Emotion Work: 'Only Death Will Make Us Part' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) focuses on parental commitment to family life after divorce, in contrast to its common perception as an irrevocable breaking up of the family unit, which is often perpetuated by representations from popular culture and the media.

Why is that society still puts pressure on women to get married?

On Tuesday last (17th January) Elena was invited to talk about the pressure society places on women to marry. The discussion was a response to the news that Pastor Alph Lukau from Alleluia Ministries last year held a conference in Johannesburg, for women seeking marriage proposals. He said all he needed to do was anoint their ring fingers and Mr Right would appear in 90 days. Women from all corners of the world gathered at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg, each paying between R450 to R5, 000 for a VIP ticket.

To watch the interview, click on the link below:



FaSRU PhD/PostDoc Funding Opportunities

Families and Society Research Unit (FaSRU) 
Intergenerational Relations in South Africa: A study of intergenerational family responsibilities and obligations
PhD/PostDoc Funding Opportunities
The Families and Societies Research Unit http://www.cssr.uct.ac.za/fasru based at the Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) at the University of Cape Town is seeking applications for PhD and post-doctoral applicants.
Applications are invited for a one-year Postdoctoral Fellowship or a 3 year PhD opportunity to undertake research on any aspect of intergenerational relationships in South Africa. Successful applicants will develop and carry out innovative research as part of a team headed by Dr. Elena Moore.