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Accepted Paper:

Thinking (with) bodies: affect, ontology and queer worlding from "Africa"  
Rachel Spronk (University of Amsterdam) Thomas Hendriks (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing from our respective situated theorizations of desire from urban Africa, we argue that ethnographic processes of body-sensorial knowledge production can unfold non-representational modes of evoking erotic worlds that are (co)produced in the act of thinking and feeling “sex”.

Paper long abstract:

Starting from the obvious fact that our interlocutors "think sex" as much as we do (Rubin 1984), we argue that queer anthropology should look for ways to theorize sex with and alongside them, rather than assuming an objectivist position from where it can pretend to "explain" what we like to conceptualize as their "practices". At the same time, we call for queer epistemological and methodological approaches that fully take into account the sensorial, affective and bodily aspects of "thinking" sex. We argue that we need to go beyond the tiresome "identities" vs. "practices" binaries in anthropological writings on sex, gender and desire. One way to do so, we suggest, is to tap into the mundane processes of thinking and feeling sex as potential theorizations in themselves. Everyday "sex" indeed creates situated body-sensorial knowledge that brings specific erotic worlds into being, often from eccentric positions in contemporary geographies of power and knowledge. Drawing on our respective fieldwork on erotic desire in urban DR Congo, Ghana and Kenya, this paper explores how queer ethnographic modes of being with - and accountable to - our interlocutors entail processes of body-sensorial knowledge production, which allow for non-representative attempts to evoke sexual worlds that often evaporate as soon as they are put into words. We suggest that the act of ethnography entails a bodily method for approaching our interlocutors' statements, concepts and practices as the possibility of different affective (and sometimes queer) "worlds" rather than as merely different representations of reality.

Panel P140
Connection and contestation in queer anthropology [ENQA]
  Session 1