Queer Encounters in Afro-Diasporic Space, ALA, April 13-17, 2011, Athens, Ohio
African literature has often envisioned queer encounters within the frame of Afro-diaspora. Wole Soyinka's Joe Golder from The Interpreters (1965), the emblematic figure for such encounters, is an African American returning from the "other side" of diaspora. Simultaneously, travel across Afro-diasporic geographies frequently queers African protagonists, as their bodies and desires extend in new spaces and assume new configurations. Those who travel from Africa to Europe, the U.S., and the Caribbean experience their desires as unruly, refusing to follow the ethno-racial demands and sex-gender object choices their personal and collective histories dictate. Those who travel from Europe, the U.S., and the Caribbean to Africa also experience their desires as unruly. For instance, in Maryse Condé's Heremakhonon (1976), the protagonist struggles to reconcile her ethical commitments to social justice with her attraction to a politically repressive figure.
This panel reflects on the relationship among Afro-diasporic travel, Afro-diasporic geographies, and queer encounters. How do Afro-diasporic histories re-define the term queer? How does Afro-diasporic travel queer African and Afro-diasporic figures? What rhetorics and practices of sexuality secure African and Afro-diasporic affiliations? What rhetorics and practices of sexuality are foreclosed from African and Afro-diasporic affiliations?
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