This introduction outlines the idea of the queer customary and how various African articulations of it engage, contest, and nuance central concerns of queer theory produced in the global North, particularly around ideas of normativity—hetero and homo. It speculates on the customary’s reworking of temporality and what that reworking does to historical time and the problems and possibilities in reading the colonial archive in the search for a useable past for both lived African sexual and gendered experience and the academic study of it. The customary is seen as an iterative containment of ancestral time, a powerful form of self-fashioning in the present, and as an invitation to futurity. Brief framings of how the various essays in the special issue elaborate what we are calling the queer customary follow.
Kirk Fiereck is adjunct assistant professor of anthropology at City University of New York. He works on two long-term ethnographic projects. The first translates three-plus years of fieldwork into a book-length monograph, “Queer Customs: Cultural Authenticity, Sexual Ideology, and HIV Science in South Africa.” An open-access account of queer customs, “Queer Customs, Customarily Queer,” is available at www.medanthrotheory.org/read/10018/queer-customs-customarily-queer. The second project is a multisited ethnography of biofinance, which examines the rapid, fundamental changes to cultural economies globally that he summarizes as “the derivativization of sociality.” Derivativization is the transformation of commodity-based, labor-monetized value in industrial capitalisms to derivative-based, information-monetized value in financial capitalisms. His recent coauthored op-ed about bio-finance is available at www.forbes.com/sites/alisonbatemanhouse/2018/04/10/why-grindrs-privacy-breach-matters-to-everyone/#1913c6cf67f4.
Neville Hoad is associate professor of English and of women’s and gender studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality, and Globalization (2007) and coeditor (with Karen Martin and Graeme Reid) of Sex and Politics in South Africa: The Equality Clause/Gay and Lesbian Movement/The Antiapartheid Struggle (2005). He is currently working on a book project about the literary and cultural representations of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, in addition to a sequel to African Intimacies titled “Erotopolitics: Africa, Sovereignty, Sexuality.”
Danai S. Mupotsa is senior lecturer in African literature at the University of the Witwatersrand. She specializes in a range of subjects that include gender and sexualities, black intellectual traditions and histories, intimacy and affect, and feminist pedagogies. She has edited special issues, most recently “Visual Interruptions” (Girlhood Studies); “Xenophobia and the Techniques of Difference” (Agenda); “The Cinematic City: Desire, Form and the African Urban” (Journal of African Cinemas, forthcoming); and “Cinematic Imaginaries of the African City” (Social Dynamics, forthcoming). She has also published a collection of poetry titled feeling and ugly (2018).
Kirk Fiereck, Neville Hoad, Danai S. Mupotsa; A Queering-to-Come. GLQ 1 June 2020; 26 (3): 363–376. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-8311743
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