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Accepted Paper:

Interrogating heteronationalism and gender equality agenda in Senegal  

Author:

Giovanna Cavatorta (CNRS)

Paper short abstract:

This paper proposes an interpretation of the contemporary politics of representation about homosexuality and same-gender sexual relations in Senegal. It sheds lights on the local political stakes around the issue, arguing that the analysis could benefit from considering not only Western homonationalism, but also its gender equality agenda.

Paper long abstract:

This contribution proposes an interpretation of the contemporary politics of representation around homosexuality and same-gender sexual relations in Senegal, arguing that: these should be articulated in the analysis with the politics of representation of gender equality, as they can be jointly perceived as both a Western imperialist tool and a local moral intolerable; the focus on the global scale needs to go along with the understanding of the local political stakes.

Since at least a decade, under neoliberalism and extraversion, changing in gendered roles and sexual practices are occurring in the society and local moral authorities are thus developing a broader reinvention of Islam against this “exogenous” “corruption” of values.

Under this social pressure, government adopted heteronationalism as its official standing point and participated in fashioning LGBT’s rights as a forced and neocolonial acculturation that must be hindered. At the very same time, government is increasingly engaged in the incorporation of the more “naturalized” part of the global “gender agenda”. If homoerotic practices continue to be criminalized in the penal code, State is enforcing laws fighting sexual violence and promoting gender equality policies. Aimed at keeping a broad political consent, government thus decided to explicitly dissociate heteromormativity from the concept of gender: talking about gender-based violence does not mean preventing homophobia.

I will interrogate this strategic discourse, which disconnects sexuality from gender, thanks to a fieldwork I’m carrying out since 2019 in the Dakar region with professionals working in services and institutions tackling gender-based violence.

Panel P126
Interrogating the global geopolitics of homosexuality: state-sponsored homophobia as reaction to Western cultural imperialism? [European Network for Queer Anthropology]