Theme 3: Sexuality

An evaluation of the cultural and historical processes that have produced dirt as a classification for certain types of sexuality.

In a climate of increasingly violent homophobia in many parts of Africa, there is a need for situated, localised understandings of how particular bodies come to be regarded as dirty, and for an examination of the cultural and political histories of how these ideas came to influence public opinion. This research strand will examine in particular popular debates about moral ‘filth’ and ‘dirty’ sexualities. Source material will include: African newspapers, popular DVDs, locally published pamphlets, popular music and theatre. This strand asks: what are the connections between ideas about dirt and changing interpretations of sexuality on the continent, particularly in relation to homophobia? By what cultural and historical processes have particular bodies come to be regarded as sexually dirty in Africa? In African languages, what words and phrases are used to conceptualise homosexuality and in what ways do these mediate homophobic prejudice? In what ways do public health workers address negative popular representations of homosexuality?