Encounters & Gratitude

It does not occur to me, as I speak to a group of first-semester students, that I might be the first out, queer instructor they have met on the campus. Or, more likely, that I might be the first out, queer African professor they have ever met. It does not occur to me that I should temper my description of the class I will be offering (see below) or ease them into it.

It occurs to me now, hours later, how lucky I am to take for granted the intellectual merits of my scholarship and pedagogy. How much of a debt I owe to my colleagues and mentors for creating the conditions I now take for granted.

Many people have helped to make my “it” better. I hope I continue to justify their faith in me.

Queer Africa (spring 2011)

Over the past few years, queer genders and sexualities in Africa have received a lot of attention. Nigeria and Uganda became infamous for homophobic legislation and the imprisonment of an engaged couple in Malawi was an international scandal. As Euro-American activists and academics have rediscovered queer African genders and sexualities, activists and academics based in Africa have created new social movements, new intellectual paradigms, and used digital resources in unprecedented ways to imagine queer futures that are rooted in African particularities and intersect with global initiatives.

This class tracks the braided histories of Euro-American and African genders and sexualities across sexology, history, anthropology, literature, and critical theory. We will also focus on African print and digital testimonials, asking what it means to describe Africa as queer, how contemporary queerness relates to colonial and anti-colonial struggles, and how to bridge Euro-American and African frameworks. Authors we read will include Michel Foucault, Malek Alloula, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Sokari Ekine, and Sylvia Tamale.