Astrid Bochow researches and publishes on family relations, health and youth among middle class urbanites in Gaborone, Botswana and Kumasi, Ghana.


Botswana is one of the few middle income countries in Africa. At the same time it has one of the highest HIV/Aids prevalence rates oft he wold. I am asking how HIV/AIDS has chanced the lives and worldviews of people of middle class background (higher middle classes and lower middle classes). This question opens a new perspective in HIV/AIDS research as HIV/AIDS has often been researched in the context of poverty. Research show that HIV/AIDS brings about ambivalent social and economic change to people of middle class background in Botswana. On the one hand they are benefitting from new educational and professional perspectives brought about by nationally implemented health programmes. On the other the experience of suffering, death and loss permeates their everyday life inside and outside the family and changes the material practices of exchange in practically every aspect of life. New forms of social exclusion arise.

Lifestyles and livelyhoods

New forms of living together emerge in households of urban middle classes in Kumasi, Ghana, and Gaborone, Botsuana. I am interested on both, new life styles triggered by the presence of communication technology and social media in the lives of urbanites and new living arrangements in these urban households. Herein, I am inspired by various approaches of ethnographic research on the family and gender in Africa. My research shows how social hierarchies informed by age and gender generate the flow of material and immaterial resources as well as people within households.

Youth in motion

Young people in Ghana bring about social, religious, technological and economic innovation. At the same time, their movements are restricted by hierarchies within the family and by a lack of economic perspectives. Young urban people (Kumasi and Accra) are highly mobile, and their mobility is soften supported by their families. Migration – in order to work and earn money – is a socially accepted way of to establish oneself economically in order to be able to support the family. This form of mobility mirrors historically established forms of regional mobility. Migrating to a country of the global North, young people are also looking for adventures and aim at getting away from family pressures. Staying in a country in the global North is associated with freedom and self determination out of which new life styles are emerging.