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K-State Today

July 16, 2013



Women's studies faculty member awarded Big 12 Fellowship

By Michele Janette

Assistant professor Tushabe Wa Tushabe has been awarded a Big 12 Fellowship to visit the University of Texas, Austin to share her research on historical and current constructions of homosexuality, and to develop an international conference and corresponding co-edited anthology on African sexualities.

Tushabe will present a portion of her research in a public forum open to the University of Texas campus community. Tushabe’s work explores the assumption that sexuality is a characteristic of all human beings and, indeed, has become a "fundamental aspect of individual identity" to the extent that it now defines a person's essence. Departing from this premise, she elaborates the imbrication of sexuality discourse in human rights language and how this language impacts colonized peoples whose sense of humanity has been erased by colonialism.

The presentation is part of Tushabe’s book, "Decolonizing Homosexuality in Uganda," which develops a decolonial methodology to understand the social, linguistic, legislative, moral and epistemic formations in indigenous Uganda resulting from the colonial construction of homosexuality since 1879 to present.

Tushabe and colleagues at the University of Texas also will plan an upcoming conference and resulting anthology, provisionally titled, "Local Voices and International Movements for Sexual Freedoms in Africa." The conference and anthology will examine the ongoing legislative proposals that recriminalize homosexuality in African postcolonial states. For instance, Uganda's parliament introduced Bill No. 18 in 2009, which criminalizes a person who knows about and does not report to the state police anyone who identifies as gay, lesbian or transgender. The bill seeks to institutionalize a death penalty for gays, lesbians and transgender people.

Nigeria, Senegal, Cameron, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Malawi have similar draconian laws.