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South Africa and the Dream of Love to Come

Queer Sexuality and the Struggle for Freedom

2012
Author:

Brenna M. Munro

South Africa and the Dream of Love to Come

Uncovers the story of how the politics of queer sexuality have played out in the struggle for multiracial democracy in South Africa

Brenna M. Munro examines the stories told about sexuality, race, and nation throughout the struggle against apartheid to uncover how these narratives enabled gay people to become imaginable as citizens. She traces how the gay, lesbian, or bisexual person appeared as a stock character in the pageant of nationhood during the transition to democracy, offering an alternative cultural history of South Africa.

This is the most extensive and scrupulously researched account of the contradictory uses of queer sexualities in the literary imagining of the post-apartheid South African nation. It’s a smart, gutsy, and moving book.

Neville Hoad, author of African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization

After apartheid, South Africa established a celebrated new political order that imagined the postcolonial nation as belonging equally to the descendants of indigenous people, colonizing settlers, transported slaves, indentured laborers, and immigrants. Its constitution, adopted in 1996, was the first in the world to include gays and lesbians as full citizens. Brenna M. Munro examines the stories that were told about sexuality, race, and nation throughout the struggle against apartheid in order to uncover how these narratives ultimately enabled gay people to become imaginable as fellow citizens. She also traces how the gay, lesbian, or bisexual person appeared as a stock character in the pageant of nationhood during the transition to democracy. In the process, she offers an alternative cultural history of South Africa.

Munro asserts that the inclusion of gay people made South Africans feel “modern”—at least for a while. Being gay or being lesbian was reimagined in the 1990s as distinctly South African, but the “newness” that made these sexualities apt symbols for a transformed nation can also be understood as foreign and un-African. Indeed, a Western-style gay identity is often interpreted through the formula “gay equals modernity equals capitalism.” As South Africa’s reentrance into the global economy has failed to bring prosperity to the majority of its citizens, homophobic violence has been on the rise.

Employing a wide array of texts—including prison memoirs, poetry, plays, television shows, photography, political speeches, and the postapartheid writings of Nobel Laureates Nadine Gordimer and J. M. Coetzee—Munro reports on how contemporary queer activists and artists are declining to remain ambassadors for the “rainbow nation” and refusing to become scapegoats for the perceived failures of liberation and liberalism.

South Africa and the Dream of Love to Come

Brenna M. Munro is assistant professor of English at the University of Miami.

South Africa and the Dream of Love to Come

This is the most extensive and scrupulously researched account of the contradictory uses of queer sexualities in the literary imagining of the post-apartheid South African nation. It’s a smart, gutsy, and moving book.

Neville Hoad, author of African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization

Brenna M. Munro offers a highly original, queered canon of South African writing, covering a broad swath of historical experience from 1960 until 2010. The book is densely researched, giving a concreteness to that often fuzzy notion of ‘intersectionality’: in this case, the ways in which gender, sexuality, and nationality have played out in the dramatic narrative of the struggle against apartheid, the hopeful transition to democracy, and the more disillusioned contemporary moment.

Rita Barnard, author of Apartheid and Beyond: South African Writers and the Politics of Place

A smartly-written book about queer images in recent South Africa. The study will be extremely useful to readers in GLBT studies, and also to readers interested in South African literature, or media and cultural studies in general.

Book News, Inc.

Munro grapples with a wide variety of both apartheid-era and post-apartheid narratives about gay life and sexuality in South Africa. In so doing, she writes queer culture into the history of South Africa’s transition to democracy and beyond.

Journal of Postcolonial Writing

All told, The Dream of Love to Come provides an exceedingly rich and detailed survey, with a clear and largely compelling argument tying the different chapters together.

The Journal of African History

Remarkably, the study manages to be inclusive without appearing tokenistic, and conveys a genuine sense of engagement with the nation as fragmented, conflicted, yet unified in its very diversity. Meticulously researched.

Years Work in English Studies

Develops riveting and astoundingly eloquent, pioneering queer readings of South African texts.

African Studies Review

South Africa and the Dream of Love to Come

Contents

Introduction: The Politics of Stigma and the Making of Democracy
I. Fraternity and its Anxieties
1. Perverse Institutions, Heroic Genres: Anti-Apartheid Prison Writing
2. Gay Prison Revisions: Dramas of Conversion
3. Border Writing: Queering the Fraternity of Whiteness
II. Gender, Apartheid, and Imagined Spaces of Nation
4. City Sexualities: Richard Rive's Queer Nostalgia
5. Outside the Nation: Bessie Head’s Disorientations
III. Writing the Rainbow Nation
6. Queer Family Romance: J.M. Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer
7. Queer Citizenship, Queer Exile: K. Sello Duiker and Zanele Muholi
Conclusion: Unrequited Utopia

Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index