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Chapter 1 outlines the intellectual history that allowed the narrative of primitive normativity to develop. In particular, it shows how two fields, anthropology and sexology, both revised their notions of the “primitive” in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This reevaluation set the stage for the discourse of primitive normativity by tying sexual health to the “natural,” “unrepressed” sexuality of “primitive” peoples. The chapter also discusses the work of one very prominent anthropologist, Jomo Kenyatta, a mission-educated African leader who would one day become the first president of independent Kenya. The chapter shows how Kenyatta repurposed the discourse of African sexual normativity to serve his own ends—the promotion of Gikuyu nationalism.

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