Adriaan van Klinken, Professor of Religion and African Studies at the University of Leeds, recently published a book co-authored with Ezra Chitando: Reimagining Christianity and Sexual Diversity in Africa (African Arguments series; London: Hurst & Co and International Africa Institute / New York: Oxford University Press, 2021). See more information about the book below, and please read the Q&A with Adriaan about this book, published in the Leeds African Studies Bulletin.
Religion is often seen as a conservative force in contemporary Africa. In particular, Christian beliefs and actors are usually depicted as driving the opposition to homosexuality and LGBTI rights in African societies. This book nuances that picture, by drawing attention to discourses emerging in Africa itself that engage with religion, specifically Christianity, in progressive and innovative ways—in support of sexual diversity and the quest for justice for LGBTI people.
Van Klinken and Chitando show not only that African Christian traditions harbour strong potential for countering conservative anti-LGBTI dynamics; but also that this potential has already begun to be realised, by various thinkers, activists and movements across the continent. Their ten case studies document how leading African writers are reimagining Christian thought; how several Christian-inspired groups are transforming religious practice; and how African cultural production creatively appropriates Christian beliefs and symbols. In short, the book explores Christianity as a major resource for a liberating imagination and politics of sexuality and social justice in Africa today.
Foregrounding African agency and progressive religious thought, this highly original intervention counterbalances our knowledge of secular approaches to LGBTI rights in Africa, and powerfully decolonises queer theory, theology and politics.
‘The authors draw on the teachings of African Christian theologians to underscore the message that the radical inclusivity of the Christian Gospel both embraces sexual minorities and that sexual minorities have always had a place in African history and culture.’ — The Rev. Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth, priest, author, artist, and CEO of the Tutu Teach Foundation
‘A rich and well-crafted contribution to an ongoing conversation on homosexuality in Christian circles in Africa. Stimulating and thought-provoking—it makes good reading.’ — Ludovic Lado, Director of the Centre d’Etude et de Formation pour le Développement, N’Djamena, and author of Catholic Pentecostalism and The Paradoxes of Africanization
‘In this accessible and engaging book, van Klinken and Chitando offer unique scope for the reimagination of queer African Christianity. The nuanced accounts of queer agency frames, shapes, and disrupts the field, beyond conventional tropes and conceptions about Africa and Christianity.’ — Sarojini Nadar, Professor and Director of the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice, University of the Western Cape
‘Van Klinken and Chitando, leading scholars of African religious discourse and interdisciplinary studies, offer critical insights into rethinking sexual diversity in Africa. This book is a significant contribution to studies of sexuality and human rights across the continent.’ — Elias Kifon Bongmba, Harry and Hazel Chavanne Chair in Christian Theology, Rice University
Adriaan has also published a Q&A about the book in the Leeds African Studies Bulletin.