Sequins, Self and Struggle

As a number of postings to this blog have illustrated, the Social and Cultural Geography (SCG) research group is enriched by its relationships with colleagues across the arts and humanities at Royal Holloway. Next year these ‘GeoHumanities’ conversations will be developed in (what we hope will be) interesting ways (more to follow…). One of the dialogues happening this last year was led by Oli Mould from Geography and Bryce Lease from Drama, as they thought about the role of performance and the performing arts in anti-gentrification urban activisms. Bryce has a broader interest in identity politics and its urban performativity, particularly around questions of sexuality. He is PI on an AHRC funded project on ‘Sequins, Self & Struggle: Performing and Archiving Sex, Place and Class in Pageant Competitions in Cape Town’. The final symposium inked to the project is happening in London in July. Details from Bryce are below.

Philip Crang

Dear Colleagues

We are delighted to announce that the final symposium for the AHRC-funded project, ‘Sequins, Self & Struggle: Performing and Archiving Sex, Place and Class in Cape Town Pageants’, has moved to the Southbank Centre as part of the Mandela Weekend.

We have assembled an extraordinary group of artists, activists and academics working on space, archives and sexuality in Southern Africa. This promises to be a weekend of rich and dynamic discussion, and we hope you can join us. This event is free, but requires registration.

Please register here:


Friday 17 July

Southbank Centre
St Paul’s Pavilion

Opening and welcome
10 – 10.15am

Catherine Cole (University of California, Berkeley)
Immorality Acts: Forbidden Sexuality in South Africa

Coffee break 11-11.15am

Histories, Spaces and Archives

Nadia Davids (Queen Mary University of London)
Queer Cosmopolitans: A second look at the District Six Archives

Naomi Roux (London School of Economics)
Double vision and suspended conversations: landscapes of memory in South End, Port Elizabeth

April Sizemore-Barber (Royal Holloway, University of London)
The MGWC archives in relation to GALA

Lunch 12.45-2pm

Drag Pageants

Graeme Reid (Human Rights Watch)
Performing gay identities in small town beauty pageants

Glenton Matthyse (University of the Western Cape)
Participation in Miss Gay Western Cape

Bryce Lease (Royal Holloway, University of London)
From RuPaul to the Cape Flats: MGWC and Glocal Drag

Coffee break 3.30-3.45

Mark Gevisser (Author and journalist)
TransGender TransNational: The case of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and other queer refugees in the ‘Global Culture Wars’

Embassy Tea Gallery
195 – 205 Union St, London SE1 0PB

Exhibition opening
‘Coloured’ curated by Siona O’Connell (University of Cape Town)

Saturday 18 July

Southbank Centre
The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall

Graeme Reid (Human Rights Watch)
Sex and Politics: What role did sexual politics play in South Africa’s troubled passage to democracy?

Lunch 12-1pm

Southbank Centre
Weston Roof Pavilion

LGBTQ Pride and Representation

Zethu Matebeni (University of Cape Town)
Contesting Apartheid Legacies/Pride Events in Cape Town

Jay Pather (University of Cape Town)
Interrogating form in the performance of black queer identities in contemporary performance

Coffee break 2.30-2.45

Performance Lecture
Mojisola Adebayo (Goldsmiths and Queen Mary University of London)
I Stand Corrected

Break 3.45-4pm

Anthony Bogues (Brown University)
Thinking about decolonization; the archive and the African body

Wine Reception 5pm

There are several extra events as part of the Mandela Weekend connected to the symposium that may be of interest:

Sunday 19 July

Southbank Centre
The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall

Nadia Davids, Writing Home

Award-winning playwright and novelist Nadia Davids discusses her career with writer Margaret Busby. The South African artist creates performances and literary works that explore the complex, vibrant – and barely chronicled – world of Cape Town’s Muslim community.

Over the Rainbow: LGBT Rights in South Africa

Gay rights have been at the heart of debates surrounding public culture and nationhood in post-apartheid South Africa. This panel considers the role that sexuality has played in the construction of the ‘Rainbow Nation’ – a name which implies a crossover between multiracialism and gay rights.

The panel includes Mojisola Adebayo, Mark Gevisser, Zethu Matebeni, Glenton Matthyse, Jay Pather and Graeme Reid, and is chaired by Bryce Lease

Best wishes
Sequins, Self & Struggle team

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