Fiction as prosthesis: Reading the contemporary African queer short story
Keywords:queer, African fiction, short stories, prosthesis, heterosexual gaze, agency
In this article, I read contemporary African queer fiction as a tool employed by writers to represent and rehumanise queer identities in Sub-Saharan African societies. In these societies, heteropatriarchal authorities strive to disable queer agency by dehumanising queer subjects. I argue that African queer identities, desires, and experiences are controlled and restricted under the heterosexual gaze, which strives to ensure that human sexuality benefits patriarchy, promoting heterosexual desire as ‘natural’ and authentically African and pathologising homosexuality. African writers then employ fiction as a means of rehumanising queer subjects in these disabling heteronormative societies to grant voice and agency to identities that have been multifariously subjugated and/or deliberately erased, and fiction acts as a type of prosthesis, a term I borrow from disability studies. Rewriting such lives in fiction does not only afford discursive spaces to queer identities, but also reconstructs the queer person as a human subject worth the dignity that they are often denied. In the article, I analyse a selection of six short stories from the collections Queer Africa 2: New Stories and Fairytales for Lost Children to demonstrate how these stories function as prosthesis for queer people in disabling societies.
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