The book Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa has now officially been released by Routledge. I co-edited this volume together with Ezra Chitando, and it includes 16 chapters with case-studies from all over the African continent.
Three years ago, Ezra Chitando and I developed the idea of doing a book project on religion and homosexuality in Africa. Instead of soliciting papers from academic friends in our networks, we decided to launch an open Call for Papers that we distributed widely. We particularly encouraged young scholars, and African scholars, to submit a proposal. To our surprise, the response was overwhelming. After a rigorous selection, we were still left with too many proposals for one book. In consultation with the publisher, and with the editors of the series Religion in Modern Africa – Professors Jim Cox and Gerrie ter Haar – it was decided to publish two book volumes: one covering the different religious traditions in Africa, and a second one specifically focusing on Christianity. The second volume, Christianity and Controversies over Homosexuality in Contemporary Africa, will be out soon. But now we celebrate publication of the Public Religion volume. Here is a brief description of the book:
Issues of same-sex relationships and gay and lesbian rights are the subject of public and political controversy in many African societies today. Frequently, these controversies receive widespread attention both locally and globally, such as with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. In the international media, these cases tend to be presented as revealing a deeply-rooted homophobia in Africa fuelled by religious and cultural traditions. But so far little energy is expended in understanding these controversies in all their complexity and the critical role religion plays in them. This is the first book with multidisciplinary perspectives on religion and homosexuality in Africa. It presents case studies from across the continent, from Egypt to Zimbabwe and from Senegal to Kenya, and covers religious traditions such as Islam, Christianity and Rastafarianism. The contributors explore the role of religion in the politicisation of homosexuality, investigate local and global mobilisations of power, critically examine dominant religious discourses, and highlight the emergence of counter-discourses. Hence they reveal the crucial yet ambivalent public role of religion in matters of sexuality, social justice and human rights in contemporary Africa.
The introduction to the book, ‘Public Religion, Homophobia and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa’, is available here.