Research seminars

Nanette de Jong: Traditional Cultural Practices and HIV Interventions in South Africa

Event details

Speaker: Nanette de Jong  (University of Newcastle) 

Date: 28 February 2019

Time: 5.15 - 6.30pm.  

Venue: Lecture Room A, Alison House, 12 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9DF


Virginity testing is one of the most politically charged initiatives in South Africa’s battle against HIV/AIDS. Umkhosi Wokukhahlela (“Royal Reed Dance”), an annual ceremony celebrating virginity among girls and young Bhaca women, was resurrected as an HIV/AIDS prevention strategy in KwaBhaca Great Kingdom (Eastern Cape, South Africa), and exists within the tension between the politics of culture and gender equality in the context of the HIV pandemic.  This presentation reflects on those conflicts, yet also recounts instances in Umkhosi Wokukhahlela when those two positions—cultural autonomy and gender equality—assume common ground.  At the centre of this mediation is music, which transforms the ritual into a platform of inclusion, where the Bhaca people—men, women, girls, boys, youths, elderly—successfully challenge, control and negotiate the controversies surrounding virginity testing and, in the process, reshape HIV discourse in the Kingdom. 


NANETTE DE JONG is senior lecturer at the International Centre for Music Studies, Newcastle University. Her research examines the identities forged by African and African diasporic groups, emphasizing the ways in which these identities find expression in music. She has published on avant-garde jazz, Caribbean music and Southern African music, and is currently on the editorial board of Popular Music.  De Jong is also an accomplished classical and salsa flautist, serving as substitute flute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and performing with such salsa greats as Johnny Pacheco and Celia Cruz

Feb 28 2019 -

Nanette de Jong: Traditional Cultural Practices and HIV Interventions in South Africa

Nanette de Jong discusses the role of music in mediating between cultural autonomy and gender equality in the controversial practice of virginity testing.

Lecture Room A
Alison House
12 Nicolson Square