Welcome to Feminist Africa's thematic focus on sexualities. This issue provides us with the opportunity to continue some of the debates initiated by Patricia MacFadden, Charmaine Pereira and Sylvia Tamale in an earlier issue (see Feminist Africa 2). In keeping with Feminist Africa's intellectual development agenda, the present issue also provides a platform for new research carried out by leading African feminist thinkers. The three feature articles present thought-provoking material drawn from the Mapping Sexualities Research Project. This is possibly the first project in the transnational field of sexuality research to have been carried out by African researchers rooted in feminist praxis.1 Through this new knowledge, we provide ourselves with the opportunity to deepen and further inform the ongoing debates and struggles around various aspects of sexuality.
Much of the literature available on the global market addresses African sex-uality by proxy – in terms of grand theorisations of race and imperialism, colonial histories of regulation and population control, or in terms of the negative effects of various violent and abusive practices. In the last decade, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has generated much biomedical and epidemiological research that is largely inattentive to socio-cultural contexts and political economies of sexuality, not to mention the agency and interests of people whose sexual practices are now targeted for study. The fact that we have such limited academic and analytical knowledge about sexuality, a pivotal aspect of social organisation at all levels, provides a powerful motivation for future research to be carried out by African scholars, and to be carried out in new ways that are both transformed and transformative.