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Between freedom and constraint: Black men negotiating sexual identification in post-apartheid South Africa


Thabo Msibi from the University of KwaZulu-Natal gives an open talk during the conference Lavender Languages and Linguistics 26.

Drawing from a wider life history study of black male teachers in rural and township contexts of South Africa who engage in same-sex relations, I will seek to showcase the various ways in which black same-sex identity and desire are negotiated in a local context. Such contexts are characterized by a history of legislated discrimination and inequality, and attitudes and practices that are often exclusionary, but within a Constitutional order that promises rights and equality. With regard to same-sex relationships, these rural and township contexts have been portrayed in both popular and academic media through a prism of deficiency and hostility, with notions of ¿rife¿ and ¿vociferous¿ homophobia being used of them. The paper responds to this portrayal by suggesting that the history of violent sexual, gender and racial discrimination produces a complex present-day reality that positions same-sex love in these contexts in ambiguous social positions of both freedom and constraint. Through narrative accounts, the paper will show the various repertoires, such as language, culture and religion, that black same-sex loving men draw on in negotiating their same-sex identification. The paper will argue for a shift in our understanding of same-sex identification in African contexts¿ from a position of victimhood to a complex social position informed by a web of both entrapment and freedom.

Lecturer: Thabo Msibi, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Date: 5/2/2019

Time: 9:15 AM - 10:00 AM

Categories: Language, Humanities

Organizer: Department of Swedish

Location: Conference Centre Wallenberg, Medicinaregatan 20 A

Contact person: Tommaso Milani

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