By Hoad N.W.
There were few book-length engagements with the query of sexuality in Africa, not to mention African homosexuality. African Intimacies at the same time responds to the general public debate at the “Africanness” of homosexuality and interrogates the meaningfulness of the phrases “sexuality” and “homosexuality” open air Euro-American discourse. Speculating on cultural practices interpreted through missionaries as sodomy and resistance to colonialism, Neville Hoad starts off by means of reading the 1886 Bugandan martyrs incident—the execution of thirty males within the royal court docket. Then, in a chain of shut readings, he addresses questions of race, intercourse, and globalization within the 1965 Wole Soyinka novel The Interpreters, examines the emblematic 1998 Lambeth convention of Anglican bishops, considers the imperial legacy in depictions of the HIV/AIDS difficulty, and divulges how South African author Phaswane Mpe’s modern novel Welcome to Our Hillbrow problematizes notions of African id and cosmopolitanism. Hoad’s review of the historic valence of homosexuality in Africa exhibits how the class has served a key position in a bigger tale, one within which sexuality has been made based on a imaginative and prescient of white Western fact, restricting an knowing of intimacy which could think an African universalism. Neville Hoad is assistant professor of English on the college of Texas, Austin.
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Additional resources for African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality, and Globalization
However, the sexualized language of Christianity is sometimes deployed, perhaps indicating unconscious investments in the spectacle of the dying youths. 27 Although the executions can be seen as politically generative, the acts that lead up to them cannot. In addition, the possibility exists of connections between the Mwanga episode in 1885–86 and the Wilde scandal ten years later. While I have not found any pictures or drawings of Mwanga in the British press, it is reasonable to speculate on how his physical appearance may have been imagined.
More importantly, these limits are revealed in the solitariness of the act of reading. Justin can trust no one, most of all the people Tessa’s work so desperately wants to help. Unrepresentable in the narrative and definitionally outside the potentially ethical circuit of reader/writer, the African person with HIV/AIDS disappears here in the very exchange that depends on him/her for its moral weight. We are in the familiar landscape of subalternity here. In the world of The Constant Gardener (and the title resonates with the notions of death and rebirth, sustained cycles of labor and repose) we have African AIDS and African disease more generally staged as a crisis for, for the want of a better shorthand, European conscience.
I set to work certain anthropological or historical ideas of cultural difference (dynamically rather than statically understood) against universalizing rhetorics of desire and identity. Through this tension, I hope to recuperate other possible understandings of Mwanga’s actions and to reveal the ways in which representations of the “sexualities” of other races both shore up and destabilize the emergent homo/hetero binary in Europe. These events also reveal the instability of meanings attributable to corporeal intimacies as they enact and are acted upon by clashing signifying systems: murder or martyrdom, sex or ritual, resistance or imperialism.
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