Negotiating Resilience in Children Affected by HIV&AIDS

In: From microscope to kaleidoscope

The first purpose of this chapter is to interrogate emerging conceptualisations of ‘resilience’ in children. The second purpose is to extend this investigation to explore the ways in which conceptualisations of resilience are negotiated, over time, in a study with children affected by HIV&AIDS. I argue that conceptualisations of resilience need to extend beyond the individual characteristic level in order to include the notion of collective resilience in times of adversity. I will base my arguments on my experiences as South African principal investigator of a longitudinal study that focuses on resilience in mothers and children affected by HIV&AIDS, i.e. the Kgolo Mmogo Project. In this study emerging findings are that while the concept of ‘resilience’ remains a contested term, researchers tend to revert to viewing resilience mostly as an individual characteristic, even though there may be greater awareness of social context. Conceptualisations of ‘resilience’ also impact on epistemological and methodological choices throughout the research process. Implicitly the chapter aligns with numerous authors who construct ‘resilience’ as an antidote to medical or deficit approaches in the field of HIV&AIDS.