Decolonizing sexuality, disrupting epistemologies, shattering the subject
Rachel Spronk (University of Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
Decolonizing sexuality addresses a problem that confuses the logic of opposing and separated epistemologies as originating from the South and from the North. The notion of the subject that permeates the (global) discourse of human rights sharpens the question of what decolonization needs to do.
Paper long abstract:
In discussions about decolonization I engage in at my university as well as in other academic circles, it is often implicated that the panacea to the flawed production of knowledge is the disentanglement between global Southern scholarship and global Western scholarship. We need to disrupt the hegemonic epistemology so as to clear the way for the decolonized production of knowledge. In this paper I would like to address a problem that confuses the logic of opposing and separated epistemologies: the notion of the subject. Particularly the idea of the subject that permeates the (global) discourse of human rights and with that, the fight for justice with regard to gender and sexual minorities. As Michel Foucault famously stated, "sexuality" is the product of the specific European cultural history: it is not only a specific power/knowledge regime that regulates sex but also its main product or outcome. In other words, it produces subjects for whom "sexuality" constitutes the essential core of their inner self. In contrast, in Africanist scholarship the distinction between sexual practices and identities is often studied, suggesting a foundation for a new epistemology for theorizing sexuality beyond the subject. At the same time, the framework of LGBTQI+ rights is also a crucial engine for the much needed research on queer sexualities, which implicates the entanglement of global Southern and Western sensibilities. Decolonizing sexuality thus presents us with a series of questions and dilemma's rather than straightforward solutions that I would like to bring into view for further reflection.
Epistemic disruptions and connections: dialogues on decoloniality in/and feminist African studies