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Gender Performativity, Queer Sexualities and Fictional Representation in Selected Short Stories from Malawi and Uganda

Ben de Souza


This article examines characterisation and symbolism as narrative strategies that challenge anti-LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and  Intersex) cultures in four short stories – Stanley Kenani’s “Love on Trial” and “In the Best Interests of the Child”, Monica Arac de Nyeko’s “Jambula Tree” and Beatrice Lamwaka’s “Chief of the Home”. The main thrust of the article is that gender as represented in these works of fiction does
not conform to the hegemonic social binaries prevalent in Malawi and Uganda, the national contexts for these stories. Instead, it is performative rather than fixed, and more fluid than hegemonic conceptions would have it. Using the Butlerian notion of gender performativity, this article demonstrates how the aforementioned narrative strategies are used to critique cultures (and other social establishments such as laws and religions) that are eventually liable for the prevalent homophobic attitudes towards LGBTI, particularly homosexuality and lesbianism. The article reads the selected stories in ways that help challenge widespread and entrenched bigotry regarding alternative sexualities. 

Keywords: queer sexualities, gender performativity, heteronormativity, homophobia, narrative strategies

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2948-0094
print ISSN: 1016-0728