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Synopsis

Ross Parsons has been working with HIV-positive children in Mutare since 2005. As a child psychotherapist, he was interested in exploring how a therapeutic group, meeting regularly, might offer a way of elaborating and meeting their needs. His account of these experiences is presented as a rare blend of anthropological and psychotherapeutic approaches to the study of children, and he is candid about the close, even intimate, relationships that resulted: �I have crossed the classical ethnographic and psychoanalytic boundary of the cool observer. The therapist, while still awkwardly present, has also become an advocate in pursuit of the ethnographic.� The period of his research coincided with one of deep crisis in Zimbabwe�s economy: employment opportunities were few, public health and education services were in decay, and the prospects were grim for those on the margins of society. �In the course of my fieldwork I have attended too many funerals.� In the absence of state support, the poor look variously to international NGOs, and to the church. Parsons offers telling insights into the crossroads of donated pharmaceuticals and Christian faith, and is constantly alert to the place of traditional spirituality and ties of kinship.

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