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The Visibility of Sexual Minority Movement Organizations in Namibia and South Africa

Currier, Ashley McAllister (2007) The Visibility of Sexual Minority Movement Organizations in Namibia and South Africa. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The South African state has responded favorably to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) social movement organizations' (SMOs) efforts to protect and extend sexual and gender minority rights, whereas Namibian state leaders have verbally attacked LGBT organizing and threatened to arrest sexual and gender minorities. In these countries, LGBT persons have organized themselves into publicly visible social movement organizations (SMOs) over the last ten years. Amid such different official responses to LGBT organizing, how, when, and why do Namibian and South African LGBT social movement organizations become publicly visible or retreat from visibility? To answer this question, I turn to sociologist James M. Jasper's (2004, 2006) concept of "strategic dilemma." LGBT social movement organizations encountered strategic dilemmas of visibility or invisibility when they decide whether and how to become visible, modify their public profile, or forgo political opportunities. To understand the micropolitical dynamics of how LGBT social movement organizations negotiated such strategic dilemmas of visibility and invisibility, I engaged in intensive, continuous ethnographic observation of four Namibian and South African LGBT social movement organizations for approximately 800 hours and analyzed my ethnographic fieldnotes. I also analyzed more than 2,100 newspaper articles and LGBT SMO documents and conducted 56 in-depth interviews with staff, members, and leaders of LGBT SMOs. In this dissertation, I explore the varied strategic dilemmas of visibility and invisibility that Namibian and South African LGBT SMOs faced. My findings advance social movement theorizing by demonstrating the importance of studying social movements in the global South. In addition, my findings contribute to postcolonial feminist and queer theorizing by showing how marginalized sexual and gender minorities in post-apartheid Namibia and South Africa used public visibility as a strategy to argue for their democratic inclusion.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Currier, Ashley
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBlee, Kathleen Mkblee@pitt.eduKBLEE
Committee MemberHashimoto, Akikoahash@pitt.eduAHASH
Committee MemberGreen, Cecilia Acagreen@pitt.eduCAGREEN
Committee MemberClarke, Eric Oeclarke@pitt.eduECLARKE
Committee MemberDavis, Paula Jpjd11@pitt.eduPJD11
Date: 19 September 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 26 June 2007
Approval Date: 19 September 2007
Submission Date: 2 July 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: gay; lesbian; LGBT; sexuality; social movements; strategy; transgendered; bisexual; southern Africa
Other ID:, etd-07022007-132909
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:49
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:45


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