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Keywords:

  • suicide;
  • debt;
  • passion killing;
  • HIV/AIDS;
  • Botswana;
  • Southern Africa;
  • death;
  • cancer;
  • social relations

ABSTRACT

This essay considers new forms of investment, risk, and self-determination, among Botswana's middle and aspirant classes, as well as the loneliness and rage that are at stake when they fail. In it, I use specific instances and more widespread talk of suicides and murder–suicides contemplated, attempted, and accomplished as a vehicle for pondering the social dimensions of investment, and the perils of secrecy and the loneliness that shadow it. Amid a new regime of risk, investment, and self-determination brought by discontinuities of economic boom and widespread AIDS death over the past decade, Batswana are facing new questions about how to invest in relationships, selves, and futures. The essay concludes with a radically different context, a cancer ward, where Batswana seek to exile suicide and nihilism from the beds, minds, and hearts of patients through processes of socialization and paternalism that deny self-determination, while at the same time questing for and demanding investment in high-tech biomedicine.