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Klausen, Susanne

Klausen, Susanne


Forbidden Desire: Interracial Intimacy in South Africa during Apartheid, 1948-1994

How important was the regulation of sexuality to the maintenance of white supremacy in South Africa during apartheid? What was the impact of the enforcement of legislation criminalizing inter-racial sex from the 1950s to the 1980s on South African citizens and subjects as well as internationally? What techniques did the police and courts utilize to enforce that law?

Project Description

This research project will examine the meaning and effects of the law that criminalized inter-racial sexual relationships in South Africa during apartheid (1948-1994), the Immorality (Amendment) Act passed in 1950. The project aims to understand the consequences on South Africans of the state’s brutal application of a law intended primarily to stigmatize white male desire for black women. The objectives of my research include identifying the nature of interracial sexual relationships discovered by police, explicating police and judicial processes used to enforce the Act, and assessing the law’s impact on the international anti-apartheid movement. This research seeks to contribute to historians’ increasing understanding of the role of the regulation of sexuality in the construction and maintenance of apartheid.

Selected Publications

1) “‘There is a Row about Foetal Abnormality Underway’: The Debate about Inclusion of a Eugenics Clause in the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act, 1977-1978,” New Zealand Journal of History, Vol. 51, No. 2 (October 2017): 80-103.

2) Abortion Under Apartheid: Nationalism, Sexuality, and Women’s Reproductive Rights in South Africa (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, September 2015; paperback ed. September 2018).

3) Race, Maternity, and the Politics of Birth Control on South Africa (Houndmills, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004).

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