Queer Kinship : South African Perspectives on the Sexual politics of Family-making and Belonging book cover
1st Edition

Queer Kinship
South African Perspectives on the Sexual politics of Family-making and Belonging

ISBN 9780367188023
Published September 15, 2019 by Routledge
222 Pages

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Book Description

What makes kinship queer? This collection from leading and emerging thinkers in gender and sexualities interrogates the politics of belonging, shining a light on the outcasts, rebels, and pioneers. Queer Kinship brings together an array of thought-provoking perspectives on what it means to love and be loved, to ‘do family’ and to belong in the South African context.

The collection includes a number of different topic areas, disciplinary approaches, and theoretical lenses on familial relations, reproduction, and citizenship. The text amplifies the voices of those who are bending, breaking, and remaking the rules of being and belonging. Photo-essays and artworks offer moving glimpses into the new life worlds being created in and among the ‘normal’ and the mundane.

Taken as a whole, this text offers a critical and intersectional perspective that addresses some important gaps in the scholarship on kinship and families. Queer Kinship makes an innovative contribution to international studies in kinship, gender, and sexualities. It will be a valuable resource to scholars, students, and activists working in these areas.

Table of Contents

PART I: The politics of belonging – questioning queer kinship and belonging 

1. Chosen family: A photographic essay
Germaine de Larch 

2. Focus on ‘the family’? How South African family policy fails queer families
Catriona Ida Macleod, Tracy Morison and Ingrid Lynch 

3. Revisiting ‘familyhood’ and queer belonging: Exploring queer collectivities created through culture and leisure practices
Desiree Lewis 

4. Spectres to come: Reproductive futurism, queer Africa, die-ins and drag
Jaco Barnard-Naudé 

5. Esibathandayo | Kin we love: An essay
Zethu Matebeni 

PART II: Domestic and parenthood desires – the voices of queer youth 

6. The domestic desires of queer youth: Narratives of domesticity and dissent among queer students at three South African Universities
Gabriel Hoosain Khan 

7. Surviving heterosexism: Queer youth’s parenthood intentions
Azwihangwisi Helen Mavhandu-Mudzusi 

PART III: Lesbian women’s marriage and family-making 

8. ‘Mna ndiyayazi uba ndizotshata intombazana’ | I...., for one, know that I will marry a woman’: (Re)creating ‘family’ and reflections on rural lesbian women’s experiences of child rearing and kinship
Gcobani Qambela 

9. Just a piece of paper: Marriage and family formation for lesbian women in South Africa
Jessica Scott 

10. Integration and emergence: Black lesbians re/negotiating marriage and lobola
Noma Pakade 

PART IV: Queer men’s production and performance of family 

11. The production and performance of ‘queer’ family by African men who engage in same-sex relations
Thabo Msibi 

12. ‘Living two lives’ and ‘blending in’: Reproductive citizenship and belonging in the parenthood narratives of gay men
Tracy Morison and Ingrid Lynch 

13. Interracial gay partnerships in post-apartheid South Africa: The ‘journey’ of a heterosexual researcher
Olwufemi Adeagbo 

14. Queer Kinship in South Africa: Where to next?
Vasu Reddy, Ingrid Lynch & Tracy Morison 

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Tracy Morison is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at Massey University (New Zealand) and an Honorary Research Associate in the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction research programme at Rhodes University (South Africa). Tracy’s research interests are in gender, sexuality, and reproductive health. She works with critical feminist theories and qualitative methodologies. She is a co-author of the book Men’s pathways to parenthood (Morison & Macleod, HSRC Press, 2015).

Ingrid Lynch is a senior research specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and an Honorary Research Associate in the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction research programme at Rhodes University. Ingrid’s areas of research interest include: genders and sexualities; feminist approaches to researching sexual- and gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Prior to joining the HSRC she worked as the research, advocacy and policy manager at the Triangle Project (an NGO concerned with LGBTI rights and wellbeing) and as a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) during which time she also completed a research residency at the University of Michigan (United States) as part of the African Presidential Scholar programme.

Vasu Reddy is a professor and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria. His research interests include human development and identity marker issues (notably genders, sexualities and HIV and AIDS), and broader issues of social justice. In addition to the social sciences, Vasu is also deeply interested in the broader humanities. Previously, Vasu has worked as an executive director at the HSRC and as an associate professor of Gender Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa). He has also served on several boards and committees, including the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality and the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project. He is a co-founder of the Durban Lesbian and Gay Centre (with Nonhlanhla Mkhize and the late Ronald Louw). Vasu has published widely on topics related to gender, sexuality, and HIV and AIDS, in local and international journals. He has co-edited several volumes, including: From social silence to social science: Gender, same-sex sexuality and HIV/AIDS in South Africa (with Theo Sandfort & Laetitia Rispel, HSRC Press, 2009) and Care in context: Transnational gender perspectives (with Stephan Meyer, Tammy Shefer & Thenjiwe Meyiwa, HSRC Press, 2014). He is a co-author of The country we want to live in: Hate crimes and homophobia in the lives of black lesbian South Africans (with Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Jane Bennett & Relebohile Moletsane, HSRC Press, 2010). Vasu was a visiting professor at the University of Basel (Switzerland) in 2009 and a visiting scholar at the University of California (Berkeley, United States) in 2002


At its heart, Queer Kinship poses a question with which no one can live fully and without fear: what is to love and be loved without obstruction. Few questions are as politically, culturally, and personally significant for our human need to belong-with-others. The book is at once critical, questioning, queering, enabling, and generative, surfacing the different possibilities and challenges of doing kin and family differently. 

 Kopano Ratele, Professor in the Institute for Social and Health Sciences at the University of South Africa (Unisa) and researcher in the South African Medical Research Council-Unisa Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit.

As this important book demonstrates, the global struggle for sexual and gender equality is one of the most critical and contested issues of our times.  This exciting collection brings together innovative contributions that address the sexual politics of belonging in South Africa through the lens of queer kinship. In particular, it challenges us to think in a more intersectional way about questions of sexual and reproductive citizenship. The result is a book that opens up contemporary debates about queer belonging in new and important ways, and is bound to be an an invaluable resource to scholars and students.

 Diane Richardson, Professor of Sociology, Newcastle University, UK and author of Sexuality and Citizenship. 


In this bold new text Morison, Lynch, and Reddy bring together a diverse collection of contributions, all of which speak to the ‘comfort’ offered by normative ideologies of kinship in the South African context. Whilst many of the chapters speak to a hope that such normative ideologies might expand to encompass queer family forms, many also challenge the costs that come with accepting the ‘comfort’ offered by such ideologies. As such, the collection opens up spaces that both assert the importance of reproductive justice, whilst questioning the very terms upon which reproduction is made to matter. 

Damien W. Riggs, Associate Professor, Flinders University