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 via examining the 1886 Bugandan martyrs incident—the execution of thirty males within the royal courtroom. Then, in a sequence 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 main issue, and divulges how South African author Phaswane Mpe’s modern novel Welcome to Our Hillbrow problematizes notions of African id and cosmopolitanism. Hoad’s overview of the historic valence of homosexuality in Africa exhibits how the class has served a key function in a bigger tale, one within which sexuality has been made in response to a imaginative and prescient of white Western fact, restricting an knowing of intimacy that may 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
As an example, Mwanga’s relations with his pages provide some of the impetus for direct British colonial intervention. A reconsideration of these events of 1886 may allow us to see what happens when bodily practices get recoded as “sex” and how representing these recoded bodily practices plays a role in assigning meaning to cultural and racial difference. I hope my analysis of these events can suggest how one may read sexual subtexts in narrations of national, religious, and racial authenticity at the cusp of formal European colonization.
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.
Lorbeer comes to conscience late in the novel. Will its readers, sitting on planes, on trains, in armchairs—all locations that mark them as members of the world Lorbeer implicitly denounces—do the same? The novel’s careful staging of its representational work (conscienceraising, rather than consciousness-raising), sugar-coated by the seductions of narrative suspense, may allow its readers to begin ethical work that in turn may become political. However, the limits of the novel’s political vision, and perhaps the vision of any novel, become clearer in the narrative’s failure, or refusal, or constitutive inability to imagine a collective resistance to the forces of globalized capital, symbolized by the ruthless pharmaceuticals, which are also embodied in the figure of Lorbeer.
African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality, and Globalization by Hoad N.W.