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Querying the queer from Africa: Precarious bodies – precarious gender

Journal article
Authors Tommaso M. Milani
Published in Agenda: Empowering Women For Gender Equity
Volume 28
Issue 4
Pages 75-85
ISSN 1013-0950
Publication year 2014
Published at
Pages 75-85
Language en
Subject categories Gender Studies, Art History, General Language Studies and Linguistics

Abstract

A large body of scholarship across several disciplines has convincingly illustrated how the gender binary – the distinction between males and females as complementary and desirable opposites – is constantly reproduced through everyday, apparently ‘banal’, practices. Such process is not innocuous but is part and parcel of hegemonic ideological formations of gender and sexuality that contribute to positioning some individuals as ‘normal’ and ‘desirable’ whilst recasting others as ‘unwanted’ and ‘deviant’. Against this backdrop, this Article seeks to offer a different perspective, one that focuses less on the reproduction than on the ambivalence of collusion and contestation in relation to the gender binary. In order to do so, it investigates a drawing made by Gabrielle Le Roux in collaboration with Silva, a Namibian trans activist, which featured as part of the exhibition queer & trans Art-iculations at Wits Art Museum in 2014. With the help of an eclectic theoretical apparatus that brings together visual analysis with an African perspective on queer theory, the Article shows how the portrait simultaneously reproduces and contests normative gendered and sexualised scripts. Moreover, it is argued that Le Roux's work and collaboration with transgender and intersex activists can be seen as the beginning of a decolonising project that emerges from Africa, questioning northern, colonial ideologies.

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