Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2016


African Studies | Anthropology | Family, Life Course, and Society | International and Area Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology


HIV/AIDS has brought the connections between care and relatedness into sharp relief. In the midst of social change driven largely by the AIDS epidemic, the house has emerged as the most stable element connecting kin in Lesotho. Houses provide spaces that frame human actions, transform relationships, and reflect the social order. The house is a key crossroads for human movement. It is also the site where physical connections, emotional bonds, and feelings of love and affection are nurtured. Most significantly, it is the site where physical acts of caring take place. Based on extensive ethnographic research, I demonstrate that the house is one of the places where the pressures of AIDS-driven change are most felt because of its role in structuring care. AIDS has intensified the importance of the house as caregiving has become a primary means for shaping relatedness.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Anthropological Quarterly. 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. (2016). The AIDS House: Orphan care and the changing household in Lesotho. Anthropological Quarterly, 89(1), 151-180. DOI: 10.1353/anq.2016.0004