Transcontinental lives: intersections of homophobia and xenophobia in South Africa

Beetar, Matthew David (2017) Transcontinental lives: intersections of homophobia and xenophobia in South Africa. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on prejudice located at the intersections of sexuality and nationality. Drawing on mixed qualitative research sessions involving men who are ‘LGBTI migrants’ from African countries, and who are living in South Africa, the thesis offers three overarching points of focus. Firstly, it contextualises and critiques historical state structures and attitudes which shape understandings of identity in South Africa. Secondly, it analyses everyday experiences of xenophobia and homophobia, as experienced by ‘LGBTI’ people who have migrated to the country for a variety of reasons. Finally, it locates these experiences within the structures identified and, based on participant-led discussions, offers a framework for understanding and suggestions for meaningful intervention.

Using an overarching critical perspective of intersectionality and queer necropolitics I argue that contemporary South Africa fosters an image of inclusivity and exceptionalism that is vastly at odds with reality. In everyday spaces ‘LGBTI migrants’ are often forced to ‘switch’ between being either African or LGBTI. However, I argue that through journey-derived questioning of both Africanness and Queerness these processes of switching foreground hope and action. These are rooted in values of solidarity and community which extend, for fleeting moments, beyond labels and beyond geographic boundaries. Through a reconciled merging of these seemingly opposed subjectivities I argue that insight is offered into life beyond, yet within, national structures.

In this way the participants exhibit an ‘African Queerness/Queer Africanness’ which shifts them beyond necropolitical death and towards transcontinental life. I ultimately argue that this may be harnessed as a tool to intellectually, and practically, render Africa as a site of (African) queer potentiality. I suggest that LGBTI migrants, through their embodiment of a specific transcontinental future, are pioneers in revealing this potentiality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0012 Sexual life > HQ0019 Sexual behaviour and attitudes. Sexuality
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2017 11:46
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2017 11:46
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/70453

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