Saving and Serving the Nation: HIV Politics and the Emergence of New Professional Classes in Botswana

  • Astrid Bochow
Part of the Frontiers of Globalization book series (FOG)


This chapter discusses the fight against HIV/AIDS in Botswana as an ongoing state-driven process of social differentiation that has led to the consolidation of a new class of technocrats. With reference to the literature on humanitarian interventions, Bochow shows how international agencies forge new, sometimes informal, job economies that offer novel opportunities to educated professionals. The rise of HIV/AIDS activism among educated female professionals shows that the success of the country’s government in pooling foreign and domestic resources to fight the disease has been important to social differentiation. Stigmatization of HIV-positive individuals complicated the emergent structures and identities of middle classness in Botswana—they found their status associated with neediness and backwardness, and experienced various forms of social exclusion. This has inspired forms of ‘helping’ that build on existing social differences between the ‘fortunate’ and ‘unfortunate’, corresponding to a ‘sociology of pity’ that reshapes the class identity of those who help (Boltanski, Distant Suffering: Morality, Media and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). Participation in the counter-HIV struggle thus contributes to a class-like status beyond one’s actual class position.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Astrid Bochow
    • 1
  1. 1.Georg-August Universität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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