Periodic Reporting for period 2 - INTIMIZ (Interracial intimacy in Africa: Afro-European couples, cross cultural transactions, and social changes in Islamic Zanzibar)
Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2021-03-31
Overall conclusions of the action:
- The project fueled theoretical discussions on various topics in anthropology (intimacy, women's migration, interracial and gender relations) and expanded the knowledge on East African Islamic societies. The scientific results of the project were disseminated both among the international and European community of researchers, and among the general public, through written articles and oral presentations.
- It provided training to the researcher in various ways (language skills, networking capacities, professional and management skills, audiovisual skills), expanding her career prospects in the academia and beyond.
- It fueled collaborations between European and African scholars, which have largely remained under explored in the field of social sciences.
- In challenging times of racism, the documentary project developed during secondment will be a major tool to promote tolerance, and build multicultural awareness among the general public.
1. Ethnographic fieldwork in Zanzibar.
2. Organization of 2 international workshops leading to new scholarly collaboration in the field of African studies.
3. Submission of a Special Issue proposal following the workshop in Zanzibar).
4. Consistent participation in several graduate courses, seminars and workshops during the outgoing and return phases of the action.
5. Dissemination of the results through invited academic talks and workshops (US, France, Scotland), and the publication of an article for lay audiences.
6. Publication of one single-authored peer-reviewed article in top-tier academic journal. A monograph is also in preparation.
7. Training in scientific dissemination into TV media through the secondment at TSVP. Participation in the production of 3 anthropological documentary series. I worked on the scenario of a documentary project designed to disseminate INTIMZ results to lay audiences.
8. Participation in an exhibition at the Ethnographic Museum of Neuchâtel (Switzerland).
9. Training in Kiswahili language.
10. Undergraduate course "Power and sexuality in Africa" taught in Sciences Po Paris during the Fall Semester 2020-2021.
11. Participation in ERC Webinar and writing workshop and preparation of an ERC Consolidator Grant application for 2022.
(2) Through the case of interracial intimacy in Zanzibar, I also questioned the transformation of practices and representations of sexuality in the globalizing era. While work on sex tourism, transnational prostitution, or migration through marriage has focused on how the sexual market has become globalized, and how sexuality has become a key resource in strategies of international migration and social mobility, it has overlooked how these transnational intimate relationships also affect individuals themselves, and in particular their bodies and sexuality. To this regard, I have shown that, at the turn of the 21st century, Zanzibar experienced major social changes, partly due to the intensity of international mobility generated by tourism and expatriation in the archipelago. In a context where the norms of modesty usually require a certain restraint in the uses of the body and the expression of affects in interactions, the irruption of white women in tourist areas has put local spatial and moral orders under tension. The beach and the street have in fact become privileged places for flirting, and places of sociability for couples, leading to the irruption of sexuality within the public space.
(3) The case of interracial couples also shades light on the articulation of gender, class and race in the realm of conjugality. While some studies of couples formed by Western women and African men conclude that gender power relations have been reversed, the detailed ethnography of the conjugal life of these couples shows much more subtle power dynamics. I have shown, on the one hand, that despite the dominant position of women from an economic, cultural, and symbolic point of view (they are white, educated women from the upper middle class), their assets are in fact largely shared with men and appropriated by them in strategies of social ascent. On the other hand, I insisted on the ability of Zanzibari men to recompose the balance between the two traditional axes in the construction of male identity, namely economic power and sexual performance. While the economic power of Zanzibari men has suffered from capitalist globalization, sexual potency has become a key aspect of affirming masculinity. In this regard, intimate relations with white women constitute an opportunity for young men to perform a masculinity based chiefly on sexual potency, which is to say competition between men for access to women’s bodies on the one hand, and sexual expertise on the other hand.