April Sizemore-Barber

Over the Rainbow? Constituting Queerness and Performing Nation in Post-Apartheid South Africa

My Dissertation utilizes the popular post-apartheid discursive trope/ truism that “Homosexuality is UnAfrican” as a frame through which to read the value given to particular forms of identity affiliation in contemporary South Africa. Much political and scholarly work has been done to assert the existence of same-sex desire in both colonial and post-colonial Africa and yet the basic belief in the “truth” of this statement goes unchallenged in the everyday delimiting of African identity; as the dominant discourse in any countries, each time it is challenged, the recitation of the argument gains traction, against perceived “outsiders.” I read the phrase “Homosexuality is UnAfrican,” as a performative statement, that—when spoken by those with the authority to enact the erasure—reveals about the contemporary identity articulations on “being South African.” My analysis examines a number of performance sites where the sexual identifier of “homosexual/gay/lesbian” is put into play with the racial signifier of “African” and the national affiliation of “South African,” a triangulation that allows for the potential destabilization of each category, and for performances to emerge that engage old identities in new ways.