Syllabus Ideas: Queer Africa

I am offering an introductory class in the spring semester. Still feeling my way through it, but here’s what an advanced version might look like—had I all the time. I am interested in working through sexology-anthropology as a way to get to embodiment. (I leave out “the” “Venus Hottentot” because I agree with Zine Magubane—Baartman’s iconic place in art and scholarship risks effacing many other such exhibited and experimented-upon bodies.)

Had I more time, I’d look at the politics of burial, spend more time on African masculinities, feminisms and urbanities, tourism and the pornographic imagination, development and the pathologically desiring body. And queer activisms. A ton of social scientific work is newly available—I find it useful as an index of where thinking is. I read it but have no real way of processing it. I have also left out books that focus on white gay men in colonial Africa—not my cup of tea.

This class assumes that students are familiar with the rudiments of African, postcolonial, and queer studies. (Mudimbe, Said, Foucault, Butler.)

Possible Units: Colonialism and the Pornographic Imagination; Engendering Africans; Queer Temporalities (“queer” is not quite the right word); Writing Self; Activism.


Jacobus X, Untrodden Fields of Anthropology, “Africa”
Felix Bryk, Voodoo Eros
Malek Alloula, The Colonial Harem
Luise White, The Comforts of Home
Oyerunke Oyewumi, Invention of Women
Megan Vaughan, Curing Their Ills
Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other
Neville Hoad, African Intimacies
Marc Epprecht, Hungochani
Wulf Sachs, Black Hamlet
Nkunzi Nkabinde, Black Bull, Ancestors and Me
Feminist Africa (selections)
Sylvia Tamale, ed., forthcoming volume (selections)
Hakima Abbas & Sokari Ekine, eds., forthcoming volume (selections)
Queer Digital Africa (online selections)

And Others

Amos Tutuola, Palm-Wine Drinkard
Tahar Ben Jelloun, The Sand Child
Flora Nwapa, Efuru
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, The River Between
Chris Abani, Graceland