Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Volume 7, Issue 2
spring 2017
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Moe Gardner
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

Queer Africa (WGSS 287)

by Haja Kamara '19

Zethu Matebeni’s seminar, Queer Africa, offers an in-depth analysis on the intersection of queer and African identities, allowing students to grapple with the complex ways that gender and sexuality have been constructed and deconstructed in various African societies. The seminar created a space in which students learned to think about how location affects queerness- forcing us to question the preconceived notions we held about what it means, not only to be queer or African, but what it means to be both. This seminar gave students the tools to analyze the ways in which history has played a role in shaping queer identities; for example, we studied how Apartheid shaped understandings of gender in South Africa and the lasting effects the construction of gender during Apartheid has on the lives of trans people in South Africa today. In addition to reading texts written by preeminent scholars in the field of Queer African studies, students watched films and read autobiographical works, helping us bridge the gap between theory and lived experience. Students wrote reading response papers which analyzed the texts we read from an academic standpoint but also had the opportunity to write creative responses that were inspired by the films we watched as well as the poetry and prose we read. Roundtable discussions led by students provided a unique way to engage with the text in conversation with current events. Through these discussions, we analyzed the function Pride events play in a worldwide conversation about queerness, transphobia in the media, as well as our own positionality. Queer Africa was the most valuable course I have taken during my time at Yale, not only because of the amazing readings and new ideas but because I got to see myself represented in the classroom and learn from one of the kindest, most supportive professors I have ever had.

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