African Sexualities: A Reader

Front Cover
Sylvia Tamale
Fahamu/Pambazuka, Jun 23, 2011 - Social Science - 656 pages

This groundbreaking volume, the first of its kind written by African activists themselves, aims to inspire a new generation of students and teachers to study, reflect and gain fresh and critical insights into the complex issues of gender and sexuality. It opens a space – particularly for young people – to think about African sexualities in different ways. This accessible but scholarly multidisciplinary text, from a distinctly African perspective, is built around themed sections each introduced by a framing essay. The authors use essays, case studies, poetry, news clips, songs, fiction, memoirs, letters, interviews, short film scripts and photographs from a wide political spectrum to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, analyse the body as a site of political, cultural and social contestation and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities. The book adopts a feminist approach that analyses sexuality within patriarchal structures of oppression while also highlighting its emancipatory potential.

As well as using popular culture to help address the 'what, why, how, when and where' questions, the contributors also provide a critical mapping of African sexualities that informs readers about the plurality and complexities of African sexualities – desires, practices, fantasies, identities, taboos, abuses, violations, stigmas, transgressions and sanctions. At the same time, they pose gender-sensitive and politically aware questions that challenge the reader to interrogate assumptions and hegemonic sexuality discourses, thereby unmapping the intricate and complex terrain of African sexualities.

The blend of approaches and styles enhances the book's accessibility and usefulness for teaching as well as allowing for historical and textual contextualisation.

Authors include scholars, researchers, professionals, practitioners and experts from different regions of Africa and Africans in the Diaspora.

What people say:

Dr. Tamale's book blends activism, academia and common sense approaches to give us insight into African sexualities. She's to be commended for taking the risk to talk about topics that aren't often discussed – with candor, clarity and depth.
Cary Alan Johnson – Executive Director, International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Sylvia Tamale has given us a jewel of a book, drawing together a dazzling array of contributors from all over the continent to offer the most eloquent of repudiations of the many myths about sexualities in Africa. This landmark collection deserves to be widely read.
Andrea Cornwall – Professor, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, UK

African Sexualities: A Reader captures the physical and emotional aspects of African sexualities in their diverse forms and contexts, applying the question of power to these realities. An important affirmation, this book is a useful contribution to African literature on sexualities from Africa that is based on African perspectives and experiences.
Ifi Amadiume – Professor and Writer, Dartmouth College, USA

Bravo! A book about Africans, published in Africa, and mostly written by Africans. Literally dozens of established scholars, activists, artists, and an emerging generation of young African intellectuals explore the diverse aspects of sexualities in Africa. The Reader can almost stand alone as a university course, challenging by its breadth, interdisciplinarity, and passion, the many stereotypes and silences that still encumber sexuality studies in Africa.
Marc Epprecht – Professor, Queens University, Canada and author of Heterosexual Africa?

This volume far surpasses its stated objective of 'amplifying the voices of Africans' by situating these in a critical and post-colonial feminist framework offering profound insights into the troubling dynamics of power, domination, subjectivity and cultural liberation that variously affect the continent's people in today's globalizing world. It gives voice to the seismic shifts in the politics of sexuality that are currently taking place. Tamale's reputation as a courageous and highly accomplished feminist legal scholar and activist no doubt facilitated the stupendous outreach and research engagements that lie behind this volume.
Amina Mama – Nigerian-British feminist Professor, University of California, Davis



Research theory and methods
Sexuality power and politics
Mapping sexual representations and practices of identity
Part 4 Integrated and positive sexuality
Reproduction and rights
Sex and masculinities
Whos having sex and whos not?
Sexuality spirituality and the supernatural
Pedagogical approaches

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About the author (2011)

Sylvia Tamale is the author of When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda, a former visiting professor at the African Gender Institute of the University of Cape Town, and a former visiting scholar at the University of Wisconsin. She is currently dean of the faculty of law and jurisprudence at Makerere University in Uganda.

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