- The idea of African men: dealing with the cultural contradictions of sex in academia and in Kenya
- Culture, Health & Sexuality
- Volume | Issue number
- 16 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
In this paper, I reflect on the notion of 'African men' as it is employed in global health scholarship and disentangle the way the idea is used as a generative concept. I explore how this notion circulates and gets modified, adapted and reproduced by scholars, on the one hand, and by various groups of men in Africa, on the other. I argue that the use of the idea of African men as an a priori category in scholarly imagination and practice presents us with stereotypes that impede much research. I then briefly connect with what has been analysed as the hegemonic discourse on Africa as the paradigm of difference, and the history of local modes of self-presentation as Africans. In Kenya, among both men and women, the use of the phrase African men as a natural category of sexual agents has been used to explain or justify men's multiple sexual relations. Yet if we look more closely at men's experiences, it becomes clear how men are caught up in conflicting discourses of masculinity. I conclude that we need to analyse gender as a performative quality that is both constructed and meaningful.
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