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Strings AttachedAIDS and the Rise of Transnational Connections in Africa$
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Nadine Beckmann, Alessandro Gusman, and Catrine Shroff

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265680

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265680.001.0001

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‘Decadent Imports’, ‘Vile Abominations’

‘Decadent Imports’, ‘Vile Abominations’

Transnational Discourses on Male–Male Sex and the Missionary Position in Buganda, 1875–1910

(p.271) 13 ‘Decadent Imports’, ‘Vile Abominations’
Strings Attached

Lindsay Ehrisman

British Academy

This chapter explores the origins of contemporary homophobic discourse in Uganda. It argues that hegemonic claims of an exclusively heterosexual tradition in Uganda have been intimately connected to misguided versions of the past, particularly surrounding the infamous 1886 executions of Baganda royal pages ordered by kabaka (king) Mwanga. This chapter examines the ways in which British missionaries, beginning in the late nineteenth century, codified or silenced male-male sexual activity in the missionary record, and how those silences were subsequently reproduced by the first generation of Ganda Christian elite in their early written histories. By excavating the discursive links between the 1886 executions and homophobic rhetoric in Uganda today, this chapter seeks to deconstruct a particular set of historical assumptions about ‘traditional’ Ganda sexuality, and contextualise those assumptions within a specific transnational, historical process, which gave the assumptions power.

Keywords:   Uganda, homophobia, MSM, gender and sexuality, missionaries, history

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