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Queer Objects to the Rescue

Intimacy and Citizenship in Kenya

Examines forms of intimate citizenship that have emerged in relation to growing anti-homosexual violence in Kenya.
Campaigns calling on police and citizens to purge their countries of homosexuality have taken hold across the world. But the “homosexual threat” they claim to be addressing is not always easy to identify. To make that threat visible, leaders, media, and civil society groups have deployed certain objects as signifiers of queerness. In Kenya, bead necklaces, plastics, and diapers more generally have come to represent the danger posed by homosexual behavior to an essentially “virile” construction of national masculinity.
In Queer Objects tothe Rescue, George Paul Meiu explores objects that have played an important and surprising role in both state-led and popular attempts to rid Kenya of homosexuality. Meiu shows that their use in the political imaginary has been crucial to representing the homosexual body as a societal threat and as a target of outrage, violence, and exclusion, while also crystallizing anxieties over wider political and economic instability. To effectively understand and critique homophobia, Meiu suggests, we must take these objects seriously, and recognize them as potential sources for new forms of citizenship, intimacy, resistance, and belonging.

Table of Contents

1 Queer Objects: Introduction
2 Intimate Rescue: Grammars, Logics, Subjects, Scenes
3 “Male-Power”: Virility, Vitality, and Phallic Rescue
4 Bead Necklaces: Encompassment and the Geometrics of Citizenship
5 Plastics: Moral Pollution and the Matter of Belonging
6 Diapers: Intimate Exposures and the Underlayers of Citizenship
7 The Homosexual Body: Gayism and the Ambiguous Objects of Terror

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