Drawing from Achille Mbembe’s theorization of Afropolitanism as an opportunity for modern Africans “to experience several worlds” and develop flux, hybrid, and constantly mobile identities (“Afropolitanism” 29), this essay attempts to make an intervention into the ways in which this phenomenon appeared in colonial Senegalese culture. A neglected site of Afropolitanism was the colonial metropolis of Dakar which reflected subversive homosexual or transgender identities during the 1940s and 50s. Focusing on key writings such as Armand Corre’s book, L’ethnographie criminelle d’après les observations et les statistiques judiciaires recueillies dans les colonies françaises
[criminal ethnography based on judiciary observations and statistics gathered from French colonies] (1894) and Michael Davidson’s travelogue, “Dakar” (1970), this essay wants to uncover a part of the silenced and neglected history of sexual and gender variances in colonial Senegalese culture. In these texts, one finds salient examples of Afropolitanism which were deployed as tools of resistance against homophobia and transphobia and as means of affirming erotic, sensual, and transgressive identities. In the end, colonial Senegalese culture transcended gender and sexual binaries in order to provide space for recognizing and examining Afropolitan sensibilities that have thus far been neglected in African studies scholarship.
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