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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:A 'vortex of identities': freemasonry, witchcraft, and postcolonial homophobia
Author:Geschiere, PeterISNI
Periodical:African Studies Review (ISSN 1555-2462)
Geographic term:Cameroon
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conference papers (form)
External link:https://doi.org/10.1017/asr.2017.52
Abstract:The recent moral panic in Cameroon about a supposed proliferation of 'homosexuality' is related to a special image of 'the' homosexual as 'un Grand' who submits younger persons, eager to get a job, to anal penetration, and are thus corrupting the nation. This image stems from the popular conviction that the national elite is deeply involved in secret societies like Freemasonry or Rosicrucianism. The tendency to thus relate the supposed proliferation of homosexuality in the postcolony to colonial impositions is balanced by other lines in its genealogy, for instance, the notion of 'wealth medicine,' which GŁnther Tessmann, the German ethnographer of the Fang, linked already in 1913 to same-sex intercourse. This complex knot of ideas and practices coming from different backgrounds can help us explore the urgent challenges that same-sex practices raise to African studies in general. The Cameroonian examples confuse current Western notions about heteronormativity, GLBTQI+ identities, and the relation between gender and sex. Taking everyday assemblages emerging from African contexts as our starting point can help not only to queer African studies, but also to Africanize queer studies. It can also help to overcome unproductive tendencies to oppose Western/colonial and local/ traditional elements. Present-day notions and practices of homosexuality and homophobia are products of long and tortuous histories at the interface of Africa and the West. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]