European Porno-tropics

Anne McClintock (added by GPL)

The European porno-tropics had a long tradition. As early as the second century A.D., Ptolemy wrote confidently of Africa that "the constellation of Scorpion, which pertains to the pudenda, dominates that continent." Leo Africanus agreed that there was "no nation under heaven more prone to venerie" than "the Negros." Francis Bacon's Hermit was visited by the Spirit of Fornication, who turned out to be a "little foule, ugly Aethiope." John Ogilby, adapting the writings of Olfert Dapper, rather more tactfully informed his readers that west Africans were distinguished by "large propagators," while the planter Edward Long saw Africa as "the parent of everything that is monstrous in nature." By the nineteenth century, popular lore had firmly established Africa as the quintessential zone of sexual aberration and anomaly -- "the very picture," as W. D. Jordan put it, "of perverse negation." The Universal History was citing a well-established and august tradition when it declared Africans to be "proud, lazy, treacherous, thievish, hot and addicted to all kinds of lusts." It was as impossible, it insisted, "to be an African and not lascivious, as it is to be born in Africa and not be an African." [Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Context, N. Y.: Routledge, 1995, 22.]

Postcolonial OV discourseov Gender Matters Bibliography

Last modified: 8 April, 2002