Affective Health and Masculinities in South Africa explores how different masculinities modulate substance use, interpersonal violence, suicidality, and AIDS as well as recovery cross-culturally.

With a focus on three male protagonists living in very distinct urban areas of Cape Town, this comparative ethnography shows that men’s struggles to become invulnerable increase vulnerability. Through an analysis of masculinities as social assemblages, the study shows how affective health problems are tied to modern individualism rather than African ‘tradition’ that has become a cliché in Eurocentric gender studies. Affective health is conceptualized as a balancing act between autonomy and connectivity that after colonialism and apartheid has become compromised through the imperative of self-reliance. This book provides a rare perspective on young men’s vulnerability in everyday life that may affect the reader and spark discussion about how masculinities in relationships shape physical and psychological health. Moreover, it shows how men change in the face of distress in ways that may look different than global health and gender-transformative approaches envision. Thick descriptions of actual events over the life course make the study accessible to both graduate and undergraduate students in the social sciences.

Contributing to current debates on mental health and masculinity, this volume will be of interest to scholars from various disciplines including anthropology, gender studies, African studies, psychology, and global health.

chapter |19 pages


Connecting: affective health and masculinities

chapter 1|19 pages


Masculinities in South African history

chapter 2|21 pages


From male trauma to (in)vulnerability

chapter 3|20 pages


The limits of straight men’s sexuality

chapter 4|19 pages


How street-smart men create belonging

chapter 5|19 pages


Addiction and the gender of substance use

chapter 6|22 pages


Male idioms of distress

chapter 7|21 pages


Men’s help-seeking in cross-cultural context

chapter 8|21 pages


Manhood and relational dignity

chapter |4 pages