Suicide, risk, and investment in the heart of the African miracle

Julie Livingston

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This essay considers new forms of investment, risk, and self-determination, among Botswana's middle and aspirant classes, as well as the loneliness and rage that are at stake when they fail. In it, I use specific instances and more widespread talk of suicides and murder-suicides contemplated, attempted, and accomplished as a vehicle for pondering the social dimensions of investment, and the perils of secrecy and the loneliness that shadow it. Amid a new regime of risk, investment, and self-determination brought by discontinuities of economic boom and widespread AIDS death over the past decade, Batswana are facing new questions about how to invest in relationships, selves, and futures. The essay concludes with a radically different context, a cancer ward, where Batswana seek to exile suicide and nihilism from the beds, minds, and hearts of patients through processes of socialization and paternalism that deny self-determination, while at the same time questing for and demanding investment in high-tech biomedicine.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)652-680
    Number of pages29
    JournalCultural Anthropology
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Nov 2009


    • Botswana
    • Cancer
    • Death
    • Debt
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Passion killing
    • Social relations
    • Southern Africa
    • Suicide

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anthropology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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