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Defiant desire in Namibia: Female sexual–gender transgression and the making of political being

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ABSTRACT

In this article, I explore local productions of desire in Namibia by focusing on the engagement of young, working-class lesbians with human rights ideologies of sexual freedom. I discuss how various techniques deployed by a sexual minority-rights NGO allow youth to amplify and legitimize their embodied sense of sexual–gender difference. In my analysis of their self-mediated incitement, I regard desire as a moral practice; practices of self-determination and acts of resistance are generated and authenticated through repeated reflection on the internality of desire. My elaborations also emphasize class-related issues. I argue that struggles with class and gender inequality destabilize the very notion of “sexual identity” in ways that open up political and erotic possibilities between lesbians and other working-class women in Namibia, blurring the dividing lines of identity politics and of gender and class politics. [lesbian resistance, African sexuality, moral practice, desire, global queer identity, human rights]

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