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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Life Seen': Touch and Vision in the Making of Sex in Western Kenya
Authors:Geissler, P. WenzelISNI
Prince, Ruth J.ISNI
Periodical:Journal of Eastern African Studies
Geographic term:Kenya
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Cultural Roles
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/17531050701218924
Abstract:This article is part of a project about transformations of relatedness among the Luo of western Kenya, which the authors examine by observing, in the everyday life of one village, concrete practices that constitute and negotiate material contact. In short, villagers understand physical touch and associated forms of material contact as practices that momentarily merge persons or their bodies by sharing substance. Such moments of coming together and merging, 'riwo', release creative or transformative force, with its attendant ambiguity: touch can make life as well as destroy it. Since there is, in these times of death and confusion, little agreement among the villagers about how the continuity of life can be maintained, and which order should be created or restored, moments of physical contact (or its absence) are nodes around which the present predicament is debated, and alternative visions of past and future are produced. The present paper looks at one aspect of these debates: bodily intercourse between woman and man. The authors discuss how this practice, which among Luo tends to be associated with darkness and the absence of words, is increasingly drawn into the light of discourses - such as Christian, Traditionalist, medical and pornographic - which have emerged in western Kenya at different times during the past century, and which in different ways constitute 'sex' as a distinctive imagination of intercourse. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]