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Publication Date


Publication Title

Kronos: South African Histories






This article traces our collective experiences as a photographer, a journalist and an academic engaged in the process of documenting the lives of South Africa’s grand-mothers – who are confronting the HIV/AIDS pandemic while carrying an immense history of social struggle in the apartheid era. We set out with individual aspirations to record, in visual and narrative forms, the life stories and lived experiences of members of the Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS (GAPA) organization based in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Over the course of three years of building relationships and working with leaders of this organisation, we developed a social documentation project that involved a series of individual portraits, family photographs, longitudinal life nar-ratives, organizational ethnographies and film footage. Collectively, this data formed the foundation for ‘The Nevergiveups’ photo exhibition at the District Six Museum and the Khayelitsha Community Centre in June 2011. This installation emerged as a collective, international effort to promote wider awareness of the significance and particularity of the juncture many South African grandmothers face – between the trauma of a collective memory of apartheid and the contemporary HIV/AIDS crisis. This project emerged in a distinct approach that combined social documentation with scholar-activism – as our professional spheres as journalist, photographer and academic sociologist intersected in a larger shared pursuit of contributing to a social documentation and activist project that would provide an archival record of South African grandmothers’ lives through the elder women members of GAPA.

Original Publication Citation

Miller, E., Smetherham, J.-A., & Fish, J. (2012). The 'Nevergiveups' of Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS: Scholar-journalism-activism as social documentary. Kronos: South African Histories, 38, 219-248.