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Kenyan, Christian, Queer: Religion, LGBT Activism and Arts of Resistance in Africa (Africana Religions Series). Penn State University Press 2019.

Popular narratives cite religion as the driving force behind homophobia in Africa, portraying Christianity and LGBT expression as incompatible. Without denying Christianity’s contribution to the stigma, discrimination, and exclusion of same-sex attracted and gender variant people on the continent, Adriaan van Kinken presents an alternative narrative, foregrounding the ways in which religion simultaneously appears as a critical site of LGBT activism.

Taking up the notion of “arts of resistance,” Kenyan, Christian, Queer presents four case studies of grassroots LGBT activism through artistic and creative expressions—including the literary and cultural work of Binyavanga Wainaina, the “Same Love” music video produced by gay gospel musician George Barasa, the Stories of Our Lives anthology project, and the LGBT-affirming Christian community, Cosmopolitan Affirming Church. Through these case studies, van Klinken demonstrates how Kenyan traditions, black African identities, and Christian beliefs and practices are being navigated, appropriated, and transformed in order to allow for queer Kenyan Christian imaginations.

Transdisciplinary in scope and poignantly intimate in tone, Kenyan, Christian, Queer opens up critical avenues for rethinking the nature and future of the relationship between Christianity and queer activism in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa.

Reviewed by Chris Greenough in Theology & Sexuality; by Damaris Parsitau in The Conversation.

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Religions in Contemporary Africa: An Introduction, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Religions in Contemporary Africa: An Introduction. By Laura S. Grillo, Adriaan van Klinken, and Hassan J. Ndzovu. London and New York: Routledge 2019. 

Religions in Contemporary Africa is an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the three main religious traditions on the African continent, African indigenous religions, Christianity and Islam. The book provides a historical overview of these important traditions and focuses on the roles they play in African societies today. It includes social, cultural and political case studies from across the continent on the following topical issues:

  • Witchcraft and modernity
  • Power and politics
  • Conflict and peace
  • Media and popular culture
  • Development
  • Human rights
  • Illness and health
  • Gender and sexuality

With suggestions for further reading, discussion questions, illustrations and a list of glossary terms this is the ideal textbook for students in religion, African studies and adjacent fields approaching this subject area for the first time.

Reviewed by Edward E. Curtis in Journal of the American Academy of Religion:

By placing African religions at the center rather the margins of religious studies, this textbook gives the discipline’s practitioners the chance to reflect on the absence of African voices and experiences in its classrooms and to imagine a future for the field beyond its imperial and racist roots.”

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Image result for Christianity, Sexuality and Citizenship in Africa

Christianity, Sexuality and Citizenship in Africa. Edited by Adriaan van Klinken and Ebenezer Obadare. London and New York: Routledge 2019.

This book explores the interconnections between Christianity, sexuality and citizenship in sub-Saharan Africa, chronicling the ways in which citizenship in the region has undergone profound changes in recent decades as a result of growing interaction between Christianity and politics, the crisis of HIV and AIDS, and the growing visibility of LGBT communities.

Case studies examine the emergence of Christianity, especially in its Pentecostal-Charismatic forms, as a public religion, and how this emergence has meant that Christian actors, beliefs and practices have increasingly come to manifest themselves in the public sphere. The contributors assess how many political and religious leaders are invested in a popular ideology of the heterosexual family as the basis of nation-building, and how this defines narratives of nationhood and shapes notions of citizenship. Additional case studies focus on the emergence of sexuality as a critical site of citizenship and nationhood in postcolonial Africa, and address the difficulties that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities face in claiming recognition from the state.

Offering case studies from across sub-Saharan Africa, and spanning several academic disciplines and critical perspectives, this book will be of interest to researchers seeking to understand the complex intersections of religion, sexuality, politics and citizenship across the region. This book was originally published as a special issue of Citizenship Studies.

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Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa

Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa (Religion in Modern Africa Series). Edited by Adriaan van Klinken and Ezra Chitando. London and New York: Routledge 2016.

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.

Reviewed by John C. Hawley in African Literature Today 36 (2018), 246-248.; Marc Epprecht in Church History 87/1 (2018), 317-320; by Rachel Schneider, Marginala Review of Books.; by Rita Schafer in Pheripherie: Politik, Ökonomie, Kultur 37 (2017), 2, 358-360.

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9781472444745

Christianity and Controversies over Homosexuality in Contemporary Africa (Religion in Modern Africa Series). Edited by Ezra Chitando and Adriaan van Klinken. London and New York: Routledge 2016.

Complementing the companion volume, Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa, this book investigates Christian politics and discourses on homosexuality in sub-Saharan Africa. The contributors present case studies from various African countries, from Nigeria to South Africa and from Cameroon to Uganda, focusing on Pentecostal, Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. They critically examine popular Christian theologies that perpetuate homophobia and discrimination, but they also discuss contestations of such discourses and emerging alternative Christian perspectives that contribute to the recognition of sexual diversity, social justice and human rights in contemporary
Africa.

Reviewed by John C. Hawley in African Literature Today 36 (2018), 246-248; Marc Epprecht in Church History 87/1 (2018), 317-320; by Rachel Schneider, Marginala Review of Books. 

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Transforming Masculinities in African Christianity

Adriaan van Klinken, Transforming Masculinities in African Christianity: Gender Controversies in Times of AIDS, Farnham: Ashgate 2013.

Studies of gender in African Christianity have usually focused on women. This book draws attention to men and constructions of masculinity, particularly important in light of the HIV epidemic which has given rise to a critical investigation of dominant forms of masculinity. These are often associated with the spread of HIV, gender-based violence and oppression of women. Against this background Christian theologians and local churches in Africa seek to change men and transform masculinities. Exploring the complexity and ambiguity of religious gender discourses in contemporary African contexts, this book critically examines the ways in which some progressive African theologians, and a Catholic parish and a Pentecostal church in Zambia, work on a ‘transformation of masculinities’.

Reviewed in Comparative Studies in Society and History 59/3 (2017), 743-753 by Matt Tomlinson (link), Journal of Contemporary Religion 29/3 (2014), 529-536 by Bernice Martin (link), in Journal of Modern African Studies 51/4 (2013), 724-726 by Marc Epprecht (link), inAnthropos 109 (2014), 346-347 by Marian Burchardt (link), in Mission Studies 31/1 (2014), 129-130 by Auli Vähäkangas (link), in Modern Believing 55/3 (2014), 321-323 by Adrian Thatcher (link), in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 68/3 (2014), 236-7 (link), in PentecoStudies 14/2 (2015), 269-271 by Caroline Valois (link), and in Pneuma 36/3 (2014), 456-459 by Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu (link).

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Onder de regenboog

Onder de regenboog: de Bijbel queer gelezen. Edited by Adriaan van Klinken and Nienke Pruiksma. Vught: Skandalon 2010 (Dutch).

Vaak wordt met een beroep op de Bijbel heteroseksualiteit tot norm verklaard en homoseksualiteit veroordeeld. De bijdragen aan deze bundel laten zien dat de Bijbel volop ruimte biedt voor alternatieve interpretaties. De auteurs lezen bekende en onbekende bijbelse teksten, van Genesis tot Openbaring, door een queer bril. Dat betekent dat ze vragen over (homo)seksualiteit aan de orde stellen, de norm van heteroseksualiteit uitdagen en nieuwe perspectieven openen op gender, seksualiteit en diversiteit in relatie tot de Bijbel, de kerk, de theologie en de samenleving.

Vragen die aan de orde komen zijn bijvoorbeeld:

  • Is Simson echt zo’n überseksuele macho als het bijbelverhaal ons op het eerste gezicht doet geloven?
  • Wat te denken van de Emmaüsgangers: twee vrienden onder één dak, die Jezus uitnodigen te blijven slapen?
  • Het paradijsverhaal, met die boom van kennis van goed en kwaad: is dat echt de basis voor een vaststaande heteroseksuele scheppingsorde?
  • Als er in Christus geen jood of Griek, geen man of vrouw is, hoe zit het dan met het onderscheid tussen homo en hetero?