A new set of logics has animated, in recent years, struggles over sex, intimacy, and citizenship in Kenya. Kenyans’ quests for respectability, social value, and national belonging have involved discursive incitements to moral rescue—calls to save intimacy from the corrupting forces of contemporary life and to secure it as a condition for the nation’s vitality and futurity. Rehabilitation efforts focused on homosexuality, sex education, women’s dress, prostitution, pornography, and sex tourism. But they also focused on other, unexpected objects less readily recognizable as tied to sexuality as such—particular substances, commodities, and material forces that are implicitly associated with the troubled intimacies of late capitalism. Such “queer objects” reveal how intimate citizenship is not always tied to something readily recognizable as “sex” or “sexuality.” Rather, sexuality-rescue projects, including anti-homosexuality campaigns, work through—that is, disguise themselves in, build on, and borrow from—the semiotics and sentiments of various objects of intimate affliction including plastics, diapers, beads, and more.
Speakers and Presenters
George Paul Meiu
Progam on Science, Technology and Society; Weatherhead Center for International Affairs; Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.