Department of Anthropology

February 28: A Reading and booksigning by Neville Hoad

Tue, February 27, 2007

African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization, by Neville Hoad

WEDNESDAY, February 28th, 7pm Reading and Signing, BookWoman, 918 West 12th St.

South African, Texas resident, and literary scholar Neville Hoad traces connections between the subjects of his subtitle. Hoad begins with a look at the 1886 execution of thirty Bugandan men when “bodily practices” were “recoded as ’sex’” and defined by Catholic missionaries and the Imperial British East Africa Company. By focusing on Africa, Hoad tracks an important historical narrative situated in a specific time and space, illustrating how “the category of ’sexuality’ can be deployed in order to produce the idea of cultural difference.”

There have been few book-length engagements with the question of sexuality in Africa, let alone African homosexuality. African Intimacies simultaneously responds to the public debate on the “Africanness” of homosexuality and interrogates the meaningfulness of the terms “sexuality” and “homosexuality” outside Euro- American discourse.

Speculating on cultural practices interpreted by missionaries as sodomy and resistance to colonialism, Neville Hoad begins by analyzing the 1886 Bugandan martyrs incident–the execution of thirty men in the royal court. Then, in a series of close readings, he addresses questions of race, sex, and globalization in the 1965 Wole Soyinka novel The Interpreters, examines the emblematic 1998 Lambeth conference of Anglican bishops, considers the imperial legacy in depictions of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and reveals how South African writer Phaswane Mpe’s contemporary novel Welcome to Our Hillbrow problematizes notions of African identity and cosmopolitanism.

Hoad’s assessment of the historical valence of homosexuality in Africa shows how the category has served a key role in a larger story, one in which sexuality has been made in line with a vision of white Western truth, limiting an understanding of intimacy that could imagine an African universalism.

Neville Hoad is assistant professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin.

Bookmark and Share