Workshop: Love & Sex in Islamic Africa

September 27-28, 2012 Tulane University New Orleans, LA

Call for Papers:

The 1980s and 1990s saw groundbreaking studies of the intersections and divergences between European and African understandings of gender in colonial and postcolonial Africa. Recent work on love and sexuality in Africa has paved the way for new directions in the study of women and gender. Works such as Love in Africa (2009) and Love and Globalization (2009) lay the groundwork for questioning the universality of romantic love. Meanwhile, scholarship on sexuality, such as Marc Epprecht’s Heterosexual Africa? The History of an Idea from the Age of Exploration to the Age of AIDS (2008) and Sylvia Tamale, ed., African Sexualities: A Reader (2011), deconstruct the heteronormativity assumed to exist in African communities. Much of the work in this field looks at areas of the continent that have become heavily Christianized over the past one hundred years. Missing from this new field is an in-depth discussion about how shifting concepts of love, sex, and sexuality intersect with transformations in Islamic beliefs and practices in Africa. Whereas European colonial officials and missionaries often blamed such social “problems” as homosexuality, premarital sex, and female promiscuity on “oversexed” African cultures, many African Muslims in the past and present associate these practices with Westernization. Furthermore, campaigns promoting the acceptance of non-normative approaches to love and sex in Islamic Africa stress the need to reconcile with local articulations of Islam. This workshop addresses debates about changing concepts of love, sex, and sexuality in Islamic Africa as they intersect with Islamic reform,Westernization, colonialism, development, and globalization. We seek papers that explore the tensions and overlaps between Islamic, indigenous, and/or international interventionist beliefs and practices, and that address themes such as courtship, love, lust, jealousy, sexuality, marriage, divorce, heterosexuality, homosexuality, homoeroticism, intimacy, initiation rites, or other questions related to love and sex. This interdisciplinary workshop is open to historians, anthropologists, linguists, public health and education specialists, and other scholars interested in contributing to the dialogue about love, sex, and Islam in Africa.

The workshop will feature a keynote speech by Laura Fair of Michigan State University.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Liz McMahon (<>) or Corrie Decker ( by June 10, 2012.


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