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Keywords:

  • [eroticism;
  • transactional sex;
  • gender;
  • kinship;
  • postcolonial feminism;
  • Africa;
  • Mozambique]

ABSTRACT

Eroticism, kinship, and gender all intersect in transactional sexual relationships between young women known as curtidoras and older white men in Maputo, Mozambique. I draw on postcolonial feminism to argue that curtidoras’ erotic powers are a central part of sexual–economic exchanges with men and that senior female kin are deeply involved in processes of seduction and extraction of money. I conceptualize relationships between curtidoras, female kin, and male partners as “gendered triads of reciprocity” to unsettle Western stereotypes of female victims and patriarchal structures in Africa. Transactional sex often makes the partners mutually dependent and emotionally vulnerable, and, although moralities of exchange collide, young women tend to redistribute accumulated money from men among female seniors and kin.