1st Edition

Affective Health and Masculinities in South Africa An Ethnography of (In)vulnerability

By Hans Reihling Copyright 2020
    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    210 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Affective Health and Masculinities in South Africa explores how different masculinities modulate substance use, interpersonal violence, suicidality, and AIDS as well as recovery cross-culturally.

    With a focus on three male protagonists living in very distinct urban areas of Cape Town, this comparative ethnography shows that men’s struggles to become invulnerable increase vulnerability. Through an analysis of masculinities as social assemblages, the study shows how affective health problems are tied to modern individualism rather than African ‘tradition’ that has become a cliché in Eurocentric gender studies. Affective health is conceptualized as a balancing act between autonomy and connectivity that after colonialism and apartheid has become compromised through the imperative of self-reliance. This book provides a rare perspective on young men’s vulnerability in everyday life that may affect the reader and spark discussion about how masculinities in relationships shape physical and psychological health. Moreover, it shows how men change in the face of distress in ways that may look different than global health and gender-transformative approaches envision. Thick descriptions of actual events over the life course make the study accessible to both graduate and undergraduate students in the social sciences.

    Contributing to current debates on mental health and masculinity, this volume will be of interest to scholars from various disciplines including anthropology, gender studies, African studies, psychology, and global health.

    Introduction – connecting: affective health and masculinities 1. Expanding: masculinities in South African history; 2. Remembering: from male trauma to (in)vulnerability; 3. Desiring: the limits of straight men’s sexuality; 4. Hustling: how street-smart men create belonging; 5. Halting: addiction and the gender of substance use; 6. Breaking: male idioms of distress; 7. Surrendering: men’s help-seeking in cross-cultural context;  8. Transposing: manhood and relational dignity


    Hans Reihling, PhD, is a research affiliate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam as well as a couples and family therapist in private practice (www.hansreihling.com)