IDD Guest seminar podcast: From Becoming 'saso' to Becoming MSM? Queer Subjectivities and HIV Discourse in Accra, Ghana

Speaker: Ellie Gore, University of Birmingham.

Ellie Gore's research is situated at the interface between sexuality, gender, and development studies. She is particularly interested in concepts of 'Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender' (LGBT) rights within development theory and practice, and with examining how rights-based approaches to sexuality work in different socio-cultural contexts. Ellie currently teaches undergraduate and master’s students in the International Development Department and in the Department for Politics and International Studies. 


This paper draws on 13 months of field research in Accra, Ghana, to examine the language and identity practices of queer men – sasoi – involved in HIV and LGBT rights activism. Taking as its starting point debates concerning the ‘globalisation’ of gay identity, the paper explores how HIV and LGBT rights discourses shape queer subjectivities in this setting and delimits some of the terms, codes, and phrases used by saso activists. Theoretically, the paper invokes Deleuze to analyse saso language and identity practices as ‘becomings’, that is, as emergent and context-bound practices of difference. This analysis indicates that identity markers like ‘MSM’ and ‘LGBT’ have not erased or usurped forms of queer knowledge that are culturally located and produced. Rather, these markers have been indigenised and integrated into a rich lexicon of queerness that travels between global and local registers, English and Ghanaian languages, and is deployed by activists in pragmatic and contingent ways.

Co-organized with the Department of African Studies and Anthropology.

The International Development Department hosts a number of seminars throughout the year which focuses on a number of different topics. The seminars are open to everyone. View the full list of IDD Guest Seminar Series 2016/17.

Recorded: Wednesday 08 March 2017 (16:00-17:30)

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