IFRA Seminar: Beyond Sex & Money – Thinking Culture In Afro-European Intimacies, Jun. 16 2015 @ IFRA/BIEA
by Dr. Altaïr Després – Univerity Paris 1 Sorbonne
Date: June 16, 2015
Time: 11 am
Entry: Prior RSVP – at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Focusing on the case of Western women travelling to Zanzibar, this paper seeks to explore how sexual intimacy with indigenous men can be a space for cultural transactions. While the economic issue is currently at the heart of the anthropological and sociological understanding of “transactional sex” or “sex-tourism” in Africa, little consideration is given to the role of symbolic and cultural resources in the economy of transnational sexuality and desire.
My hypothesis is that in a globalized sexual market not only do cultural stereotypes shape desire (intimate tourist encounters sometimes originate in racial stereotypes about the sexual performances of African men for example), but sexuality can also be a means to access cultural resources. By focusing on cultural transactions, the paper examines how, on the one hand, Western women engaged in intimate relations with African men discover local practices which are less accessible from ordinary tourist circuits, as their African boyfriends play the role of “cultural brokers” and teach them about local customs. On the other hand, this paper analyses to what extent, through intimacy, Western women also act as brokers, mobilizing their (cultural) skills for their partner by teaching him a foreign language or using their knowledge to formalize a business.