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EIU Media Relations

Cultural Significance of Blood in Botswana is Topic of Lecture


A DePauw University assistant professor is to speak at Eastern Illinois University about the strong symbolic significance of blood in the African nation of Botswana.

Rebecca L. Upton, from DePauw’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, is to present “The Disagreement of Blood: AIDS and Infertility in Northern Botswana” at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Friday, March 24, in 2020 Lumpkin Hall.

The lecture will explore how people talk about blood, fertility and HIV/AIDS. It will also address how the region’s cultural beliefs about blood are changing the social landscape.

In much of southern Africa, bearing children and providing fertility remain particularly important markers of identity and personhood. The expression “our blood does not agree” is a cultural explanation in northern Botswana for instances of infertility and failed reproduction.

Increasingly, as the HIV/AIDS epidemic casts a grim shadow over the lives of individuals in this region of Africa, explanations of the agreement of blood have taken on additional meaning. Blood is a powerful symbol, a marker of gender and prestige and a signifier of traditional culture.

In Tswana society, the intersections of reproductive strategies and the contemporary AIDS epidemic bring these meanings and the cultural constructions of blood to the forefront of everyday life.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the EIU Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

For more information, contact Don Holly of EIU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology at 581-6593.



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Media Relations
Josh Reinhart, Public Information Coordinator

2142 Old Main
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
Fax: 217-581-8444

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