T.J. Tallie’s book Queering Colonial Natal: Indigeneity and the Violence of Belonging in Southern Africa is focused on a fairly small region of the world. In this context, “Natal” refers to a British colony that is now part of the country of South Africa. Tallie applies queer theory and critical Indigenous studies to British policies in Natal over the period from 1843 to 1910. Despite the specificity of Tallie’s subject, his analysis is rich. Using examples from a different aspect of colonial life in each chapter, Tallie shows how the British officials in Natal appraised certain Zulu practices as queer, or deviations from acceptable standards of behavior, to establish the supremacy of white men and rationalize their rule over the Indigenous people of Natal.

Anyone who is interested in combining queer studies and ethnography, as I am, should read Tallie’s introductory chapter. In this section, titled “Ukuphazama iNatali:...

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