Sex and the Sacred: Queering Black Performing Arts in Cape Town, South Africa
- Start date: 1 February 2023
- End date: 31 January 2025
- Funder: UKRI
- Primary investigator: Professor Adriaan van Klinken
- Co-investigators: Dr Megan Robertson
"Sex and the Sacred” is an interdisciplinary project that explores sexuality and the sacred in the work and lives of Black queer creative artists in South Africa. By using the concept of the sacred this project allows for religion/spirituality to be studied outside of the context of institutionalized religion and belief and to explore how the sacred becomes embodied and is performed in art as well as everyday practices. This will be done through an ethnographic exploration of the lived experiences of Black queer performing artists in Cape Town. The project is particularly interested in exploring the potential of the performing arts for (re)constructing the narrative of queerness in South Africa. This is significant in a national context where religion is used to both, prop up anti-queer attitudes and discourses, but also inspire dreams for a rainbow queer utopia and motivates activism towards this. The performing arts have long been central in South African histories of Black resistance and remains equally significant in current queer resistance movements. The project thus also aims to theorise Blackness as an important intersection that shapes how sexuality and the sacred is negotiated and to analyse how the performing arts functions as a site for a queer Black consciousness. “Sex and the Sacred” holds great potential for (re)imagining political and social orders and queer futurity in the country. It is one of the most innovative and extensive studies to contribute to a growing body of literature that nuances hegemonic ideas of what it means to be queer in postcolonial Africa.