2014 March 18: Sharing South African Queer Knowledge with students in America


2014 March 18:  Sharing South African Queer Knowledge with students in America

Photo album by Valerie Thomas

Quote of the day

Is South Africa a country?


Charles G CompLit class _4061

Frieda Ekotto

The University of Michigan


Zanele Muholi Speaks at the Africa Workshop at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

It is my pleasure to introduce to you to Zanele Muholi one of the most celebrated South African Visual Activist of her generation.

A South African artist, Muholi’s visually stunning photographs and films document the beauty and love of black, lesbian South African women. They are part of Muholi’s larger project to create a historical archive that ensures the visibility of the black lesbian community in South Africa, of which she is a part. As she writes, “It is important to mark, map and preserve our mo(ve)ments through visual histories for reference and posterity so that future generations will note that we were here.” In preserving and presenting the histories of black lesbian women, she creates a space for the articulation of their subjectivity, knowledge and experiences.

Muholi addresses political, heteronormative, economic and racial inequalities and injustices by insisting on the beauty and humanity of all members of her community. This allows her to counter rhetoric that demonizes lesbians as well as narratives that represent them simply as victims. Having herself been asked to serve as a research subject for “experts” who wished only to document violence, Muholi decided that rather than allow others to speak for her, and thereby serve as the object of problematic and often fetishizing depictions, she would create her own photographs, films and essays. By producing images that show lesbian women as beautiful and loving, and by stressing their important roles as members of communities, families and the nation, Muholi offers direct intervention into economic, political and social-cultural forces that work to silence their beautiful presence and the many ways that they contribute to society.

Muholi’s photographs are portraits of women who love other women. Sometimes they are couples, smiling and embracing in intimate moments. Sometimes they are single individuals, posing for a portrait. In this way, Muholi’s visual activism is similar to my current book project, Vibrancy of Silence, which explores the lives of Sub-Saharan African lesbian women through attention to silence, desire and love, terms which I have chosen in order to shift conversations about lesbian women in Africa away from violence to their humanity. In this way, both of our projects are part of a larger movement to counter discourses that commodify and pathologize black women’s sexualties.

Muholi’s work is of international importance. It has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the United States, as well as in South Africa.

Please join me in welcoming Zanele Muholi to the Africa Workshop.


Muholi projected_4120



After Africa Workshop presentation_4156

Michigan University is almost done where I shared my work on how I explored visual activism.
Thanks to Prof. Frieda Ekotto for the invitation, generosity and hospitality, let alone her permanent commitment to open up spaces to African experts to share their experiences. She is defending queer voices and unapologetically combating any forms of invisibility in academic spaces and beyond.
We need more professors like her who truly believe in human rights.

To my dearest academic friend and African ‘Foucault’ – Charles Gueboguo, I love you and respect your expertise. Listening to your teachings in Invisibility class forced me to rethink of ‘Invisibles’ in South Africa…
My gratitude to Valerie Thomas for documentation bang.


This entry was posted in Department of AfroAmerican and African Studies, Expertise, Human Beings, Human body, Human rights, Interpretation, Introduction by Frieda Ekotta, Knowledge, Life, Life Stories, Love, Love is a human right, Mainstream media, Of Love and Loss, Our lives in the picture, Penetrating mainstream spaces, Power of the Arts, Public spaces, Questioning, Questions & Answers, Readings, ReClaim Your Activism, Sharing knowledge, South African Black Female Photographers, South African Visual Activism, Textualizing Our Own Lives, Visual Activist, Visual Activist in the classroom, Visual democracy, Visual history is a Right not a luxury, Visual Language, Visual Power, Visual Voices, Visualizing public spaces, We Are You, We Care, We were (t)here, Women who have sex with Women, Women's Work, Writing is a Right, Zanele Muholi and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to 2014 March 18: Sharing South African Queer Knowledge with students in America

  1. Ramazan Ngobese says:

    Nami ngicela ukushutha we hay ngikhathele ukubona amapic amahle athathwe abantu manje kumele bgithathe ezami izithombe look @ thz pic zinhle zonke zisho konke n ngibona a rainbow nation

  2. Pingback: 2014 April 29: Muholi to speak at UC San Diego | inkanyiso.org

  3. Pingback: 2014 July 18: Women’s Day lecture at UFS | inkanyiso.org

  4. Pingback: 2015 Feb.27: Announcement – Public Lecture by Zanele Muholi @ UCLAN, London | inkanyiso.org

  5. Pingback: 2015 Mar.9: “African Photography & “Faces and Phases” seminar | inkanyiso.org

  6. Pingback: 2015 March 12: Muholi address scholars at Brighton University, UK | inkanyiso.org

  7. Pingback: 2015 March 14: Educational Friday with UCL scholars and allies | inkanyiso.org

  8. Pingback: 2015 March 12: Muholi addressed scholars at Brighton University, UK | inkanyiso.org

  9. Pingback: 2015 March 16: Response to Muholi – Artist’s Talk | inkanyiso.org

  10. Pingback: 2015 April 20: Muholi screened “We Live in Fear” at Bard College | inkanyiso.org

  11. Pingback: 2015 Aug. 23: Muholi and Dumse present at Light Work Artist AIR | inkanyiso.org

  12. Pingback: 2015 Sept. 2: When Faces Meet in Gothenburg, Sweden | inkanyiso.org

  13. Pingback: 2016 Jan. 31: Muholi’s upcoming mo(ve)ments | inkanyiso.org

  14. Pingback: 2016 Feb.: Cleveland moves | inkanyiso.org

  15. Pingback: Muholi talks self-representation at Gallatin School of Individualized Study | inkanyiso.org

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s