Koreen Reece completed her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh in 2015. Her PhD thesis – entitled An Ordinary Crisis? Kinship in Botswana’s Time of AIDS – examines the effects of the AIDS epidemic on families in Botswana, and the legacies of governmental and non-governmental initiatives launched in response. Conventional wisdom has tended to assume that families have suffered irreversible breakdown as a result of AIDS, a crisis threatening to create many other crises in its wake: political crisis, financial crisis, an ‘orphan crisis’, and a ‘crisis of care’. Instead, Reece argues that Tswana kinship is constituted in conflict, crisis, and irresolution (or dikgang); and that as such, families prove unexpectedly resilient in contexts of crisis. Misreading this resilience, government and NGO interventions in the family struggle to achieve their aims – in part because they operate according to hidden kinship principles and ideals, derived from a variety of socio-cultural settings – and threaten to refigure kinship practice in much more enduring ways than the epidemic itself. The thesis was awarded the Outstanding Thesis Award for Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science.
During her Fellowship, Koreen will pursue new work on storytelling and kinship, attending to the ways families, NGOs, and the state tell themselves and their relationships in the context of AIDS. She will also be revising her thesis into a book manuscript. Koreen’s next research project will focus on marriage and relationships in Botswana, as part of a European Research Council-funded global comparative project on marriage.