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Book Talk: Knowing Women: Sex Intimacy, Gender, and Identity in Post-Colonial Ghana by Serena O. Dankwa

Date: April 6, 2021

Author: Serena O. Dankwa 

Biography 

Serena O. Dankwa is an Associate Researcher in the Institute of Social Anthropology and the Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Studies at the University of Bern and is affiliated with the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon. She previously held the Sarah Pettit Fellowship at Yale University and worked as a music journalist with Swiss Radio and Television. Today, she advocates for the rights and dignity of migrant sex workers and women of color in Switzerland. She is a co-founder of the Black women’s network Bla*Sh and a co-editor of the book Racial Profiling: Struktureller Rassismus und antirassistischer Widerstand (2019).

Book Description

Knowing Women is an ethnography on friendship, desire, and same-sex intimacy among urban, working-class women in southern Ghana. The intersectional analysis of these women’s life narratives situates them in relation to political, economic and social developments affecting Ghana and other postcolonial and African countries, including anti-gay policies and queer activist movements. Paying close attention to the women’s practices of self-reference, Dankwa refers to them as “knowing women” in a way that both distinguishes them from, and relates them to such categories as lesbian or supi a southern Ghanaian term for female friend(ship). In doing so she critically refutes both African nationalist homophobic claims and universalizing claims that categories of LGBTI identities can be translated between all languages and cultures. Engaging queer- feminist and postcolonial theories of gender, kinship, and sexuality, the book contributes to the field of global queer studies in which both women and Africa have been largely underrepresented.

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