McNamara, Thomas. “Not the Malawi of Our Parents: Attitudes Toward Homosexuality and Perceived Westernisation in Northern Malawi.” African Studies 73, No. 1 (January 2, 2014): 84–106.

  • Category: Literature
  • Source: Academic
  • Subject: Belonging,Discrimination,Homophobia,Homosexuality,Religion,Violence
  • Place: Malawi
  • Year: 2014
  • File: 00020184.2014.887747
: Malawi is a socially conservative country with a complicated dependence on donors. The treatment of same-sex sexuality in the nation reflects these factors. Homosexuality in Malawi is disparagingly conflated with western decadence and the nation’s debate on gay rights convolves homosexual acts, homosexual identities, urbanisation, westernisation and secularism. This article will combine observations from 11 months of living in rural Malawi and an analysis of the major Malawian newspapers between 18 May and 20 October 2012, a period where gay rights was a major news issue. It will explore why the arguments found in Malawian newspapers in favour of removing laws against same-sex sexual activity were unconvincing to rural Malawians and why both rural Malawians and the media perceived a conflict between homosexuality and a rurally embedded static Malawian culture. The article will argue that two factors of rural Malawians’ understanding of homosexuality clash with donor concepts of gay rights: their understanding of homosexuality as an ‘act’ rather than an identity and rural Malawians’ belief that homosexuality is an imposed western artifice. It will also demonstrate that these understandings are entrenched by the heavy-handed actions of donors and a gay rights discourse based on a homosexuality different to the one rural Malawians understand.