Remembering the Gender and Sexual Archive of the Black Diaspora in Tunisia: a Decolonial Approach to Historical Anthropology




Gender, Sexuality, Slaves/Enslaved, Black Diaspora, Tunisia, Decolonial


The available studies on the cultural history of the Black diasporas in the Ottoman Mediterranean have focused on religious and other cultural manifestations, leaving out the inquiry about notions and practices related to gender and sexuality. Taking a cue from works on the Black Atlantic and the African continent, this article investigates the notions of gender and sexuality underlying the sub-Saharan worldviews and offers a template to interpret the subjecthood of enslaved sub-Saharans in the Maghribi diaspora. The first part of the essay lays out a historical contextualisation of the Black diaspora in early nineteenth-century Tunis. Then I take the reference to the practice of al-musāḥaqa (lesbianism) among the Black slaves in an 1808 Arabic manuscript as a starting point to investigate, by surveying different anthropological studies, whether al-musāḥaqa can be thought of as pertaining to the archive of sexual epistemology which the enslaved would have taken to Tunisia and, more importantly, to enquire into how we can understand it within a non-anthropocentric historical cosmology-which, ultimately, can contribute to the necessary decolonisation of feminist and queer studies, and history and anthropology more generally.


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How to Cite

Goikolea-Amiano, I. (2023). Remembering the Gender and Sexual Archive of the Black Diaspora in Tunisia: a Decolonial Approach to Historical Anthropology. Culture &Amp; History Digital Journal, 12(2), e025.