Vulnerability and agency : queer representations in contemporary literary and cultural texts from Sub-Saharan Africa

Macheso, Wesley Paul (2021-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis examines representations of queer genders and sexualities in literary and cultural texts from sub-Saharan Africa written and/or produced in the twenty-first century. The analysis brings together life writing, short fiction, and filmic texts depicting the experiences of queer subjects from the region, which is notorious for homophobia and other forms of exclusion based on bodily performances in gender and sexuality. My focus is on assessing how these texts represent the vulnerability associated with queerness in the region and the ways in which the marginalised identities seek and attain agency amidst such vulnerabilities. The thesis further examines the ways in which these literary and cinematic representations function as agentic narratives giving voice, visibility, and audience to oppressed identities that are deliberately left to lurk on the margins of heteropatriarchal societies that thrive on maintaining heteronormative gender and sexual orders that satisfy the capitalistic demands of patriarchy for its sustenance. The study establishes that queer individuals in sub-Saharan Africa are rendered vulnerable because of the lack of recognition of their identities due to heteronormative discourses on gender and sexuality that inform permissible and/or non-permissible forms of being. The heteronormative commandments justifying queer exclusion are thoroughly interwoven in social, political, religious, and cultural norms advanced by authorities in the region. However, the study has found that representing these stigmatised lives in literary and cultural texts has the potential of granting them agency for fostering positive social change and reshaping the negative attitudes that mainstream societies have towards these identities. This agency for queer liberation proves to be crucial in securing possible unthreatened futures for queerness in sub-Saharan Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek die representasie van queer genders en seksualiteite in literêre en kulturele tekste uit Afrika suid van die Sahara wat in die een-en-twintigste eeu geskryf en/of geproduseer is. Die analise bring lewensketse, kortverhale en filmproduksies byeen wat die ervarings van queer persone van dié streek voorstel – ’n streek wat berug is vir homofobie en ander vorme van uitsluiting gegrond op liggaamlike funksionerings ten opsigte van gender en seksualiteit. My fokus is om te assesseer hoe hierdie tekste kwesbaarheid wat met queerheid in dié streek verband hou, representeer, asook die wyses hoe die gemarginaliseerde identiteite agentskap soek en verkry te midde van so ’n kwesbaarheid. Die tesis ondersoek voorts die maniere waarop hierdie literêre en filmiese representasies funksioneer as narratiewe agente wat ’n stem, sigbaarheid en ’n gehoor gee aan onderdrukte identiteite wat doelbewus verberg word op die rand van heteropatriargale samelewings wat daarop floreer om heteronormatiewe genders en seksuele ordeninge wat aan die kapitalistiese eise van patriargie voldoen, te handhaaf ter wille van die instandhouding daarvan. Die studie stel vas dat queer individue in Afrika suid van die Sahara kwesbaar gestel word weens ’n gebrek aan erkenning van hul identiteite as gevolg van heteronormatiewe diskoerse oor gender en seksualiteit wat toelaatbare en/of ontoelaatbare vorme van syn belig. Die heteronormatiewe verordeninge wat die uitsluiting van queer persone regverdig, is diep verweef met sosiale, politieke, godsdienstige en kulturele norme wat deur outoriteite in die streek bevorder word. Die studie het egter bevind dat die representasie van hierdie gestigmatiseerde lewens in literêre en kulturele tekste die potensiaal het om aan hulle agentskap te gee om positiewe maatskaplike verandering te bewerkstellig en die negatiewe houdings wat hoofstroomsamelewings teen hierdie identiteite koester, te omvorm. Hierdie agentskap vir queer bevryding is van kritieke belang om onbedreigde toekomsmoontlikhede vir queerheid in Afrika suid van die Sahara te verseker.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/123763
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