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  5. 2014

Ambiguous Pleasures. Sexuality and Middle-class Self-perceptions in Nairobi

Publié le 25 février 2014 Mis à jour le 25 septembre 2023

25 février

Rachel Spronk
(Universiteit van Amsterdam)

En collaboration avec le Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Mondes contemporains (LAMC)

Room Henri Janne, Institut de Sociologie (15th floor), Building S
Avenue Jeanne, 44, 1050 Bruxelles

Current debates about sexuality in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, are related to wider processes of social transformation regarding gender, sexuality and culture that are characteristic of postcolonial Kenya. One group that embodies these transformations in a particular way is young middle-class adults. For them sexuality is an important realm for self-actualization as a woman or man, as a Kenyan, an African, and as a modern person. In this présentation, I will unfold why the focus on yuppies is an interesting angle to study sexuality in Africa, as well as why a study on people’s intimate experiences, especially bodily sensations, presents new perspectives in the study of sexuality. Lastly, I will discuss the fundamentally ambiguous nature of sex and sexuality.

Rachel Spronk is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. She works at the intersection of three scholarly fields - anthropology, gender and sexuality studies, and African studies. She is studying the development of the middle classes in Kenya and Ghana and how those social transformation relate to changes in gender, sexuality and self-perceptions. In her work she combines the ethnographic study of practices and self-perceptions with the task of rethinking our theoretical repertoires.