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Contradicting Maternity

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Created: 16th Sep 2009
Modified: 16th Sep 2009
Wits University Press

Contradicting Maternity

HIV-Positive Motherhood in South Africa


Carol Long


Drawing on rich and poignant interviews with mothers who have been diagnosed HIV-positive, Contradicting Maternity provides a rare perspective of motherhood from the mother’s point of view. Whereas motherhood is often assumed to be a secondary identity compared to the central figure of the child, this book reverses the focus, arguing that maternal experience is important in its own right.

The book explores the situation in which two very powerful identities, those of motherhood and of being HIV positive, collide in the same moment. This collision takes place at the interface of complex, and often split, social and personal meanings concerning the sanctity of motherhood and the anxieties of HIV. The book offers an interpretation of how these personal and social meanings resonate with, and also fail to encompass, the experiences surrounding HIV positive mothers. Photographs, academic literature and the accounts of real women are read with both a psychodynamic and discursive eye, highlighting the contradictions within maternal experience, but also between maternal experience and the social imagination.



Carol Long is an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and a practicing clinical psychologist.


978 1 86814 494 5 220 x 150 mm, 240 pp                                



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