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African Studies | Anthropology | International and Area Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology


HIV/AIDS has devastated families in rural Lesotho, leaving many children orphaned. Families have adapted to the increase in the number of orphans and HIV-positive children in ways that provide children with the best possible care. Though local ideas about kinship and care are firmly rooted in patrilineal social organization, in practice, maternal caregivers, often grandmothers, are increasingly caring for orphaned children. Negotiations between affinal kin capitalize on flexible kinship practices in order to legitimate new patterns of care, which have shifted towards a model that often favours matrilocal practices of care in the context of idealized patrilineality.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published as:

Block, E. (2014). Flexible kinship: Caring for AIDS orphans in rural Lesotho. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 20(4), 711-727. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.12131