In the global age of decolonization, activists in the Dutch Antillean diaspora waged the struggle for independence in the bedroom. Returning to the neglected but robust archives of Antillean anti-colonial movements – from radical student groups Vito and Kambio in the 1960s to the feminist Union di Muhe Antiano in the 1980s – this talk explores how and why leftists identified sex as site of decolonization. It draws several lessons from Antillean insurgency: first, linking Antillean arguments to revolutionary Cuba and the US Black Power movement, it highlights the routes of radicalism that spanned the Black Atlantic world and proposes an alternate geography of the sexual revolution.
Second, Antilleans’ imaginative participation in the sexual revolution also offers new reasons for the politicization of sexuality at empire’s end. Unlike many contemporaries of the sexual revolution, Antillean leftists viewed sex as a site for radical political transformation precisely because of its historical connection to brutality, not pleasure. Finally, reading Antillean arguments alongside postcolonial, Black and Caribbean feminist theory, this talk questions how normative conceptions of both decolonization and sexuality have repressed the erotic imaginaries of Antillean leftists and asks what lessons they might offer social movements today.
The next day, on November, 14 Dr Chelsea Schields will give a masterclass on Racial Knowledge in the Afterlife of Slavery. More information here.