Serena Owusua Dankwa, "Knowing Women: Same-sex Intimacy, Gender, and Identity in Postcolonial Ghana" (Cambridge UP, 2021)


Knowing Women: Same-sex Intimacy, Gender, and Identity in Postcolonial Ghana (Cambridge UP, 2021) is a study of same-sex desire in West Africa, which explores the lives and friendships of working-class women in southern Ghana who are intimately involved with each other. Based on in-depth research of the life histories of women in the region, Serena O. Dankwa highlights the vibrancy of everyday same-sex intimacies that have not been captured in a globally pervasive language of sexual identity. Paying close attention to the women's practices of self-reference, Dankwa refers to them as 'knowing women' in a way that both distinguishes them from, and relates them to categories such as lesbian or supi, a Ghanaian term for female friend. In doing so, this study is not only a significant contribution to the field of global queer studies in which both women and Africa have been underrepresented, but a starting point to further theorize the relation between gender, kinship, and sexuality that is key to queer, feminist, and postcolonial theories. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.

Serena O. Dankwa is an Associate Researcher in the Institute of Social Anthropology and the Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Studies at the University of Bern and is affiliated with Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon. She previously held the Sarah Pettit Fellowship at Yale University and worked as a music journalist with Swiss Radio and Television.

Today, she advocates for the rights and dignity of migrant sex workers and women of color in Switzerland. She is a co-founder of the Black women’s network Bla*Sh and a co-editor of the book Racial Profiling: Struktureller Rassismus und antirassistischer Widerstand (2019).

Thomas Zuber is a PhD Candidate in History at Columbia University.

Your Host

Thomas Zuber

Thomas Zuber is a social and economic historian of West Africa, with a particular focus on Burkina Faso and the Sahel. He is Visiting Assistant Professor at Columbia University.

View Profile