AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
Type: Paper
Paper Title: NEWTON'S URBANITY: FROM CHERRY GROVE, FIRE ISLAND TO ABUJA, NIGERIA
Author: RUDOLF GAUDIO (State University of New York / Purchase College)   
Date/Time: Fri., 2:45 PM
Co-Author(s): RUDOLF GAUDIO (State University of New York / Purchase College) 
Abstract: What does Esther Newton’s history of Cherry Grove, New York, a predominantly white gay and lesbian vacation community since the 1930s, have to do with a city—Abuja, Nigeria—that was founded only in 1976 and is the capital of a country whose leadership frequently denies the very existence of homosexuality within its borders? In this paper I use Newton’s Cherry Grove to read the sexual culture of Abuja through the lens of urbanity: urban occupations and styles; ethnic, class and gender diversity; architecture and social space; and the ways these change dialectically over time. Although Cherry Grove differs dramatically from Abuja in many ways, its status as the “first” gay and lesbian town in the USA recalls Abuja’s celebrated identity as the “new,” “modern” capital of Nigeria. Abuja also has a popular reputation as a sexual playground for “big men” and others, including aspiring young artists and activists, who leave their home communities throughout Nigeria to work, trade and reside in the capital. Some of these migrants take advantage of the spaces and opportunities afforded by the city to forge identities and communities as lesbians and gay men. Inspired by Newton’s urbanity—by which I mean not just her analytical framework, but also her sophisticated reflections on ethnographic method and writing—I seek to pay critical homage to these women and men whose queer pursuits, though fraught with ideological contradictions, display courage and creativity in the face of homophobic hostility and intolerance.

Program Number: 3-0815
Session Title: THE MOTHER (CAMP) OF US ALL: LGBT ANTHROPOLOGY HONORS ESTHER NEWTON
Session Sponsor: Association for Queer Anthropology
Session Date/Time: Fri., 1:45 PM-5:30 PM
Organizer(s): ELLEN LEWIN (University of Iowa) 
Chair(s): ELLEN LEWIN (University of Iowa)  
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