Casteleyn, Liselot. “Challenging Queer African Narratives: A Case Study of LGBTIQ Activism in Nairobi as a Local Nuance to Trans National Queer Narratives.” MA Conflict and Development, Ghent University, 2018.

  • Category: Literature
  • Source: Academic
  • Subject: Asylum/Refugee,Discrimination,LGBTI,Marginalisation,Queer,Violence
  • Place: Kenya,Uganda
  • Year: 2021
  • File: RUG01-002791446_2019_0001_AC.pdf
Queer African narratives tend to be limited to two generalising discourses, where queerness is nationally represented as a Western import to African countries and Africa is transnationally portrayed as an anti-queer bloc. Queer Africa is thus rendered an anomaly by these essentialising representations of African culture as either un-queer or anti-queer. The queer African erasure this entails extends to the field of academic knowledge production, where Western dichotomous frameworks understand bodies as either queered or racialised. This dissertation aims to challenge the dominant (trans)national narratives and make a local queer African counter-narrative visible. As a counterweight to the abstract, homogenising, (trans)national narratives, I analysed the concrete, diverse, local narratives provided by Nairobi’s queer history, lives and activism. I reviewed the relevant queer (African) literature and conducted 14 qualitative interviews with Kenyan LGBTQ activists who embody the local, progressive, queer, African voices rendered invisible by the dominant narratives. On the one hand, this analysis indicates that the creation of these (trans)national narratives enables its narrators to employ queer bodies for the expansion and consolidation of their own patriarchal power structures. On the other hand, this analysis contests the dominant narratives by revealing that queerness was already a part of Kenya’s narrative before the West colonised the country, while this colonisation entailed the beginning of a continuous Western influence on Kenya’s anti-queer animus. These findings echo the need to move beyond Western-centred understandings of sexuality and gender in order to consider distinct local queer practices and the underlying causes of anti-queer animus. In the meantime, the resilient Kenyan LGBTQ activists are making a queer African counter-narrative visible while they are queering African studies and Africanising queer studies.