HIST 4338 Queer Histories of North Africa

HIST 4338 Queer Histories of North Africa (GLC-AS, HST-AS) (HGS)

Tuesday: 11:15-1:45 plus Independent Research

Professor Paraska Tolan-Szkilnick

In this course, we will explore the history of queer lives and activism in Northern Africa, or Tamazgha, the Northern region of Africa that stretches from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Scholarship on sex and sexuality in the Maghreb overwhelmingly focuses on the experiences of foreign men. In fact, scholars have hesitated to tackle the subject of North African homosexuality, and when they have, their work has exclusively focused on gay men. In some ways, the lack of scholarship on homosexuality in North Africa reflects the socio-legal oppression of queerness in contemporary North African societies. Today in most North African counties same-sex sexual activities are illegal and many LGBTQ+ people choose to hide their sexual orientation from large parts of their communities for fear of social discrimination, family rejection, violence, or murder. Historically speaking, then, queer desire and relationships have been restricted to sexually-segregated spaces in the private sphere. But queer people have been part of every major protest movement since the 1960s, and have struggled, more recently, for legal rights, including the right to marry, to organize, and to press charges when they are discriminated against. To recover the rich history of queer people and struggles in this understudied region of the African continent, we will look at primary sources, as well as historical monographs, film, fiction, music, and graphic novels.

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