Readings in Sexualities from Africa

9780253047601: Hardback
Release Date: 1st March 2020

9780253047618: Paperback
Release Date: 1st March 2020

Dimensions: 178 x 254

Number of Pages: 380

Series Readings in African Studies

Indiana University Press

Readings in Sexualities from Africa

Hardback / £86.00
This book can only be pre-ordered within 2 months of the publication date.
Paperback / £43.00
This book can only be pre-ordered within 2 months of the publication date.

Images and stories about African sexuality abound in today's globalized media. Frequently old stereotypes and popular opinion inform these stories, and sex in the media is predominately approached as a problem in need of solutions and intervention. The authors gathered here refuse an easy characterization of African sexuality and instead seek to understand the various erotic realities, sexual practices, and gendered changes taking place across the continent. They present a nuanced and comprehensive overview of the field of sex and sexuality in Africa to serve as a guide though the quickly expanding literature. This collection offers a set of texts that use sexuality as a prism for studying how communities coalesce against the canvas of larger political and economic contexts and how personal lives evolve therein. Scholars working in Africa, the U.S., and Europe reflect on issues of representation, health and bio-politics, same-sex relationships and identity, transactional economies of sex, religion and tradition, and the importance of pleasure and agency. This multidimensional reader provides a comprehensive view of sexuality from an African perspective.



Note on Sources

Introduction: Reading "sexualities" from "Africa" / Rachel Spronk and Thomas Hendriks

I. Representing "African" Sexualities

1. Is there a distinct African sexuality? A critical response to Caldwell / Beth Maina Ahlberg

2. Which bodies matter? Feminism, poststructuralism, race, and the curious theoretical odyssey of the "Hottentot Venus" / Zine Magubane

3. "Bisexuality" and the Politics of Normal in African Ethnography / Marc Epprecht

4. On Being Area-Studied: A Litany of Complaint / Keguro Macharia

II. Bio-Politics—Sexual Health

5. Dangerous Aphrodisiac, Restless Sexuality: Venereal Disease, Biomedicine, and Protectionism in Colonial Lagos, Nigeria / Saheed Aderinto

6. Irua Ria Atumia and Anti-Colonial Struggles among the Gikuyu of Kenya: A Counter Narrative on "Female Genital Mutilation" / Wairimu N. Njambi

7. "These Women, They Force Us to Rape Them": Rape as Narrative of Social Control in Post- Apartheid South Africa / Helen Moffett

8. "Transparent Sexualities": Sexual Openness, HIV Disclosure and the Governmentality of Sexuality in South Africa / Marian Burchardt

III. Same-Sex Practices—Gendered Identities

9. A Note on "Woman Marriage" in Dahomey / Melville J. Herskovits

10. Sexual Inversion Among the Azande / Edward E. Evans-Pritchard

11. "A Man is a Man Completely and a Wife is a Wife Completely": Gender Classification and Performance amongst "Ladies" and "Gents" in Ermelo, Mpumalanga'/ Graeme Reid

12. The Imagined Homoconference: "Activist-ism" and the Politics of Indirection, Serena Dankwa

IV. Love Transactions—Economies of Pleasure

13. The Materiality of Everyday Sex: Thinking beyond "Prostitution"/ Mark Hunter

14. On remuneration for homosexual practices in Bamako / Christophe Broqua

15. Belonging in Ethno-Erotic Economies: Adultery, Alterity, and Ritual in Postcolonial Kenya / George P. Meiu

16. The Pleasures of the City: Masculinity, Sexuality and Femininity in Dakar / Tshikala K. Biaya

V. Mobilizing Religion—Queering Tradition

17. Post-Colonial Histories of Sexuality: The Political Invention of a Libidinal African straight / Basile Ndjio

18. Homosexuality, Politics and Pentecostal Nationalism in Zambia / Adriaan van Klinken

19. "He Uses my Body": Female Traditional Healers, Male Ancestors and Transgender in South Africa / Cheryl Stobie

20. The sexual potentate. On sodomy, fellatio and other postcolonial privacies / Achille Mbembe

VI. Discrete Pleasures—Defiant Agencies

21. Sex Lives among Young People / Jomo Kenyatta

22. Eroticism, Sensuality and Women's Secrets among the Baganda / Sylvia Tamale

23. Sex, Food and Female Power: Discussion of Data Material from Northern Mozambique / Signe Arnfred

24. My Childhood as an Adult Molester / Zackie Achmat

List of Sources

List of Contributors


Cover Artist

Géraldine Tobe is an engaged artist living and working in Kinshasa, DRC. Literally painting with fire and smoke, her work explores contemporary Congolese society with a keen eye for changing moralities and their impact on gender and sexuality. She has received multiple prices and has participated at the 2018 Dak'art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal. Together with "Bokutani Artistes Réunes", a collectif of artists who aim to promote the production, support and diffusion of arts in Kinshasa, she has launched her latest project called "Handicap Mental" to support people living with mental disorders through and with art.


Zackie Achmat is an activist, film director, and co-founder of the Treatment Action Campaign. He currently serves as a board member at Ndifuna Ukwazi (Dare to Know), an activist organisation aiming to counter policies that replicate spatial apartheid, poverty, and inequality in Cape Town. He has directed the documentary Apostles of Civilised Vice (2000).

Beth Maina Ahlberg is Adjunct Professor at the Department of Women's and Children's Health and a senior researcher at the Department of Sociology, Uppsala University. Her main research interests are sexual and reproductive health, gender issues and migration in Europe and Africa. Recently she has published articles in Qualitative Health Research and Action Research.

Zine Magubane is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, Boston College. Her research interest is threefold: the sociology of knowledge; the sociology of culture, race, gender & sexuality; and historical sociology. She is the author of Bringing the Empire Home: Race, Class, and Gender in Britain and Colonial South Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2004) and edited the volume Postmodernism, Postcoloniality, and African Studies (Africa Research & Publications, 2004). Recently she has published in journals such as Signs and Cultural Sociology.

Marc Epprecht is Professor at the Department of Global Development Studies, Queen's University. His research interest include social history in southern Africa and non-normative sexualities and contestations around masculinity. He has authored several books, among which: Sexuality and Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia and Forging Resistance (Zed Books, 2013), and Heterosexual Africa? The History of an Idea from the Age of Exploration to the Age of AIDS (Ohio University Press, 2008). He also co-edited the volume Sexual Diversity in Africa: Politics, Theory, and Citizenship (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014).

Keguro Macharia obtained his PhD at the University of Illinois in 2008 and is now an independent scholar. He works mainly at the intersection of Queer Studies and African studies. His writings appear regularly in The New Inquiry and on his blog Recently he has published articles in GLQ and Critical Arts.

Wairimũ N. Njambi is Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Sociology at the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, Florida Atlantic University. Her research interests include social studies of science and technology, postcolonial studies, critical race, and sexuality studies. She has authored several articles on gender, sexuality and the legacy of colonialism in Kenya. Her work has appeared in Feminist Theory, Gender and Society, and Critical Sociology.

Helen Moffett is a writer, poet, teacher, and scholar. In addition, she has been an editor of academic works and fiction. In 2009, she released her poetry collection Strange Fruit (Modjaji Books) and, in 2016, she published Prunings (uHlanga Press).

Marian Burchardt is Professor of Sociology at Leipzig University whose work focuses on the regulation of cultural differences and public space by nation-states and urban actors, and on the effect of this on ordinary citizens. His work concentrates on the intersection of the study of citizenship, religion, secularism and global health. He is the author of Faith in the Time of AIDS: Religion, Biopolitics and Modernity in South Africa (Palgrave, 2015).

Melville J. Herskovits was an American anthropologist (1895-1963). He played a key role in the foundation of African and African-American Studies.

Edward E. Evans-Pritchard was a British anthropologist (1902-73), best known for classic monographs such as Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande (1937) and The Nuer (1940).

Graeme Reid is an anthropologist and currently the director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. Before this, he was the founding director of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of South Africa. He is the author of How to be a Real Gay: Gay Identities in Small-town South Africa (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2013). He has published in journals such as Africa and Anthropology Southern Africa.

Serena Dankwa is a research associate at the Department of Anthropology, University of Bern. Her work concentrates on queer(ing) anthropology through the lens of female same-sex intimacies in southern Ghana. She has publishedin the journals Ghana Studies and Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, as well as in the edited volume Sexual Diversity in Africa (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013). She is currently finalizing her book on female intimacies in Ghana.

Mark Hunter is Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Toronto. He is interested in the political economy of everyday life, and his research deals with how intimacy is shaped by and shaping social and spatial inequalities. His book Love in the Time of AIDS: Inequality, Gender, and Rights in South Africa (Indiana University press) was published in 2010. His new book, Race for Education: Gender, White Tone, and Schooling in South Africa is published in 2019.

Christophe Broqua is a postdoctoral research fellow at L'Institut des Hautes Études Internationales et du Développement (Geneva, Switzerland). His research looks at HIV/AIDS and the homosexuality movement in France, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and Senegal. He is the author of Agir pour ne pas Mourir! Act up, les Homosexuels et le Sida (Presses de Sciences Po, 2006).

George P. Meiu is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. His research focuses on the intersection of race, ethnicity, sexuality, and political economy in East Africa and particularly how the commodification of ethnic sexuality shapes collective identity and relations of age, gender, and kinship in Kenya. His book Ethno-erotic Economies: Sexuality, Money, and Belonging in Kenya (University of Chicago Press) was published in 2017.

Tshikala K. Biaya was a Congolese historian and anthropologist specializing in African urban cultures. He was a research associate at the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) in Dakar, Senegal but also lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is the author of Acteurs et Médiations dans la Résolution et la Prévention des Conflits en Afrique de l'Ouest (1999) and of numerous articles in academic journals such as Public Culture, Politique Africaine and Canadian Journal of African Studies. He passed away in 2002.

Basile Ndjio is Associate Professor in Social and Political Anthropology at the Faculty of Letters and Social Sciences, University of Douala. His research include transnational sex work and migration, sexuality and nationalist ideologies, and state repression of same-sex relations. He has published in a wide array of journals such as Urban Studies, African Affairs, as well as edited volumes, such as The Culturalization of Citizenship: Belonging and Polarization in a Globalizing World (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016).

Adriaan van Klinken is Associate Professor of Religion and African Studies at the University of Leeds. His research considers the public roles of religion in African societies today. I n particular it addresses issues of gender and sexuality in relation to various Christian traditions. He is the author of Transforming Masculinities in African Christianity: Gender Controversies in Times of AIDS (Ashgate, 2013) and co-editor of Christianity and Controversies over Homosexuality in Contemporary Africa (Routledge, 2016) and Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa (Routledge, 2016).

Cheryl Stobie is a Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her research focuses on representations of gender, sexuality, race, and nation through a close textual analysis of contemporary written and visual texts. She has published in, amongst others, African Literatures, Journal of Literary Studies and African Identities.

Achille Mbembe is a Professor at Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. His recent books include Sortir de la Grande Nuit – Essai sur l'Afrique Décolonisée (La Découverte, 2010), Critique de la Raison Nègre (La Découverte, 2013), and Politiques de l'Inimitié (La Découverte, 2016).

Jomo Kenyatta (1897-1978) earned his PhD in anthropology at the London School of Economics and published his thesis as Facing Mount Kenya in 1938. He later became Kenya's first Prime Minister and President at Independence.

Sylvia Tamale is Associate Professor and Dean of Law at Makerere University. Her research interests include the intersection of feminist legal theory and method, and gender, sexuality and politics. She authored the book When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda (Westview Press, 1999) and she edited African Sexualities: a Reader (Pambazuka Press, 2011).

Signe Arnfred is Associate Professor at the Institute for Society and Globalization, Roskilde University and researcher at the Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Uppsala. She has a particular interest in issues related to gender and sexuality in Mozambique. She edited the volume Rethinking Sexuality in Africa (2004) and her most recent book Sexuality and Gender Politics in Mozambique: Rethinking Gender in Africa (James Currey) was published in 2011.

Zackie Achmat is an activist, film director, and co-founder of the Treatment Action Campaign. He currently serves as a board member at Ndifuna Ukwazi (Dare to Know), an activist organisation aiming to counter policies that replicate spatial apartheid, poverty, and inequality in Cape Town. He has directed the documentary Apostles of Civilised Vice (2000).

Thomas Hendriks is Lecturer in African Anthropology at the University of Oxford. He has been published in academic journals such as American Ethnologist, Sexualities and Journal of African Cultural Studies. Rachel Spronk is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. She is author of Ambiguous Pleasures: Sexuality and Middle Class Self-Perceptions in Nairobi.