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The Erotics of History

An Atlantic African Example

Donald L. Donham (Author)

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Paperback, 113 pages
ISBN: 9780520296312
December 2017
$29.95, £24.95
Other Formats Available:
At publication date, a free ebook version of this title will be available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program. Visit to learn more.

The Erotics of History challenges long-standing notions of sexuality as stable and context-free--as something that individuals discover about themselves. Rather, Donald L. Donham argues that historical circumstance, local social pressure, and the cultural construction of much beyond sex condition the erotic. Donham makes this argument in relation to the centuries-old conversation on the fetish, applied to a highly unusual neighborhood in Atlantic Africa. There, local men, soon to be married to local women, are involved in long-term sexual relationships with European men. On the African side, these couplings are motivated by the pleasures of cosmopolitan connection and foreign commodities. On the other side, Europeans tend to fetishize Africans’ race, while a few search to become slaves in master/ slave relationships. At its most wide ranging, The Erotics of History attempts to show that it is history, both personal and collective, in reversals and reenactments, that finally produces sexual excitement.  
Donald L. Donham is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis.  His previous books include Marxist Modern: An Ethnographic History of the Ethiopian Revolution and Violence in a Time of Liberation: Murder and Ethnicity at a South African Gold Mine, 1994.

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