Intimacy’s Politics: New Directions in Caribbean Sexuality Studies

In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids
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  • 1 Department of Anthropology. Institute of French Studies. New York University.
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Review of:Pleasures and Perils: Girls’ Sexuality in a Caribbean Consumer Culture. Debra Curtis. New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009. xii + 222 pp. (Paper US$ 23.95)Economies of Desire: Sex and Tourism in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Amalia L. Cabezas. Philadelphia PA : Temple University Press, 2009. xii + 218 pp. (Paper US$ 24.95)Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora. Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009. xxvii + 242 pp. (Paper US$ 22.50)[First paragraph]Over the last ten years the field of Caribbean Studies has seen a precipitous expansion of work on sexualities, as recent review essays by Jenny Sharpe and Samantha Pinto (2006) and Kamala Kempadoo (2009) have observed. The three books under review here, all based on dissertation research and all published in 2009, make important contributions to this growing literature. While each one approaches sexual politics from a distinctive disciplinary, geographic, and theoretical vantage point, all three ask readers to take seriously the central place that sexual desires and practices occupy in the lives of Caribbean people, both at home and in the diaspora. Caribbean sexuality studies are still sometimes thought of as belonging to a domain outside of, or auxiliary to “real” politics, but these studies demonstrate without hesitation how sexuality functions as an important prism through which we might understand broader debates about ethics, politics, and economics in the region. Building from the insights of feminist theorists who connect the “private” realm to community, national, and global geopolitics, they show that sex is intimately connected to certain freedoms – be they market, corporeal, or political – as well as to their consequences. Taken together, they consider sexual subjectivity, political economy, and cultural production in unexpected ways and point to exciting new directions for the scholarship on sexuality and sexual politics in the region.

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