In Emergent Masculinities, Ndubueze L. Mbah argues that the Bight of Biafra region’s Atlanticization—or the interaction between regional processes and Atlantic forces such as the slave trade, colonialism, and Christianization—between 1750 and 1920 transformed gender into the primary mode of social differentiation in the region. He incorporates over 250 oral narratives of men and women across a range of social roles and professions with material culture practices, performance traditions, slave ship data, colonial records, and more to reveal how Africans channeled the socioeconomic forces of the Atlantic world through their local ideologies and practices. The gendered struggles over the means of social reproduction conditioned the Bight of Biafra region’s participation in Atlantic systems of production and exchange, and defined the demography of the region’s forced diaspora. By looking at male and female constructions of masculinity and sexuality as major indexes of social change, Emergent Masculinities transforms our understanding of the role of gender in precolonial Africa and fills a major gap in our knowledge of a broader set of theoretical and comparative issues linked to the slave trade and the African diaspora.
In this first in-depth historical study of homosexuality in Fascist Italy, Lorenzo Benadusi brings to light immensely important archival documents regarding the sexual politics of the Italian Fascist regime; he adds new insights to the study of the complex relationships of masculinity, sexuality, and Fascism; he explores the connections between new Fascist values and preexisting Italian traditional and Roman Catholic views on morality; he documents both the Fascist regime’s denial of the existence of homosexuality in Italy and its clandestine strategies and motivations for repressing and imprisoning homosexuals; he uncovers the ways that accusations of homosexuality (whether true or false) were used against political and personal enemies; and above all, he shows how homosexuality was deemed the enemy of the Fascist “New Man,” an ideal of a virile warrior and dominating husband vigorously devoted to the “political” function of producing children for the Fascist state.
Benadusi investigates the regulation and regimentation of gender in Fascist Italy, and the extent to which, in uneasy concert with the Catholic Church, the regime engaged in the cultural and legal engineering of masculinity and femininity. He cites a wealth of unpublished documents, official speeches, letters, coerced confessions, private letters and diaries, legal documents, and government memos to reveal and analyze how the orders issued by the regime attempted to protect the “integrity of the Italian race.” For the first time, documents from the Vatican archives illuminate how the Catholic Church dealt with issues related to homosexuality during the Fascist period in Italy.
In West Java, Indonesia, all it takes is a woman’s voice and a drum beat to make a man get up and dance. Every day, men there—be they students, pedicab drivers, civil servants, or businessmen—breach ordinary standards of decorum and succumb to the rhythm at village ceremonies, weddings, political rallies, and nightclubs. The music the men dance to varies from traditional gong ensembles to the contemporary pop known as dangdut, but they consistently dance with great enthusiasm. In Erotic Triangles, Henry Spiller draws on decades of ethnographic research to explore the reasons behind this phenomenon, arguing that Sundanese men use dance to explore and enact contradictions in their gender identities.
Framing the three crucial elements of Sundanese dance—the female entertainer, the drumming, and men’s sense of freedom—as a triangle, Spiller connects them to a range of other theoretical perspectives, drawing on thinkers from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Lévi-Strauss, and Freud to Euclid. By granting men permission to literally perform their masculinity, Spiller ultimately concludes, dance provides a crucial space for both reinforcing and resisting orthodox gender ideologies.