Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (UNL) Conference System, 1st Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies Conference

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Fucking kinship: procreation, marriage and queer desire in urban Congo
Thomas Hendriks

##manager.scheduler.building##: B Tower
##manager.scheduler.room##: T12
Date: 2015-09-25 02:30 PM – 04:00 PM
Last modified: 2015-08-07


This paper analyses the apparently antagonistic relationship between male same-sex desire and kinship in contemporary urban DR Congo on the basis of on-going ethnographic research on the production of erotic desire between self-consciously effeminate “fioto” men and their gender-conforming boyfriends. From a popular perspective on kinship, same-sex desires are indeed fundamentally unproductive and barren, undermining the supposedly “normal” development of adult personhood. Moreover, such desires not only directly negate the taken-for-granted logics of kinship but also fundamentally question the viability of the future as they seem to merely “waste” sexual energy in a non-reproductive way.

Nevertheless, supposedly dissident homoerotic desires are often surprisingly visible in the paradigmatic urban spaces of bars and nightclubs, where Congo’s self-proclaimed national ideology of “ambiance” allows for, and even thrives on, public performances of sexual transgression. Indeed, within these spaces of “ambiance” and beyond the sphere of church and family, non-procreative erotic desires can be temporarily expressed. This paper mainly focuses on what happens when male homoerotic desires leave the sphere of ambiance and thereby start to unsettle kinship ideologies. On the one hand, it explores how the apparent “rise” in openly expressed same-sex erotic relationships can be understood as an opting out of family-centred kinship logics, which have become increasingly untenable because of several interlocking socioeconomic changes. On the other hand, it discusses the emergence of alternative forms of kinship and belonging that aim for “serious” queer love beyond nightlife and ambiance.