BIARI Alumni Initiative

A Queer Nation? Public Space, Citizenship & Alternative Sexuality in South Africa

BIARI Participant(s):
Bryce Lease, Siona O'Connell, Danai Mupotsa, Ho Yin Fong
University of Exeter, University of Cape Town, University of Witwatersrand, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Participant in BIARI 2011: Critical Global Humanities: Life Forms, Languages and Sounds of the New

BIARI funding is being used to support the research of four alumni from the 2011 Critical Global Humanities Institute in a project that seeks to examine the intersection between non-normative sexual identities, minority rights, and public space in South Africa before and after apartheid. The project focuses on the notion that sexuality plays a key role in nation-building and builds upon themes discussed at BIARI around alternative sexuality and queer theory in the Global South, particularly in Jamaica, Poland, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. The alumni are working to expand this discussion to include South Africa, which was the first country to include a clause banning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, and which also figured prominently in the Critical Global Humanities Institute. They will also build upon the roundtable discussion between CGH participants and the cast members of the University of Cape Town’s Opera School, who performed an adaptation of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro during BIARI 2011.

The BIARI seed grant has also enabled the alumni to participate as a panel in the July 2012 African Theater Association (AFTA) Annual International Conference at the University of Cape Town, as well as to develop a large research grant bid with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC, UK). The latter project has two intended outcomes: an edited volume for Routledge, dedicated to the performance and representation of non-normative sexuality in South Africa and an online exhibition representing performative sexual identities in private and public spaces before and after apartheid. The BIARI grant is also being used to support three workshops at the Centre for Curating the Archive at UCT.