Rachel Spronk and Thomas Hendriks, eds. Readings in Sexualities from Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020. 363 pp. Notes. Index. $ 50.00. Paper. ISBN: 978-0-253-04761-8
African Studies Review
Readings in Sexualities from Africa, edited by Rachel Spronk and Thomas Hendriks, brings together some of the key texts that have shaped the research on African sexuality to date. The book offers a refreshing perspective on a field of research often littered with bias across stereotypical representation in the media, public opinion, and certain segments of the academic world. The editor's introduction is especially helpful in capturing some of the relevant issues at stake for anyone interested
... n this subject. Spronk and Hendriks succeed in addressing this vast topic by using an interdisciplinary approach that includes various types of research within the field of African studies. Regrouping and selecting studies from scholars working on African sexuality is no easy task, due to the numerous contributions produced on this topic in Africa, Europe, and the United States. However, the editors manage to include research endeavors from scholars working in diverse Englishspeaking, Francophone, and Lusophone national settings. By underscoring the diversity and complexity of practices, discourses, and representation surrounding sexuality in Africa, this volume is insightful in that it contributes to the debate concerning the need to decolonize knowledge production on/in Africa. To this end, the editors participate in decentralizing the discursivity around African sexuality by incorporating several texts from scholars based on the African continent. This inclusion is particularly important, considering the difficulty that African scholars often encounter in gaining access to, and publishing in, international academic journals. Part I addresses the issue of representation. This section vigorously questions how caricatural and negative images influence the depiction of African sexuality. The section's four articles explore the ways in which some studies perpetuate generalization about sexual practices in Africa, which are often associated with an idea of "sexual permissiveness." Another aspect concerns the essentialization of blackness. In both cases, the selected articles emphasize the need to analyze the ideology originating from such stereotypical representations and to offer counterexamples that contradict these prejudices.