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This last point about multiplicitous sexualities and critique of the conception of the subject as a bounded, trans-situational unit, corresponds neatly with Helle – Valle’s critique of the mainstream notion of a person as a unitary, bounded in­dividual. Instead he introduces the term ‘dividual’, in order to “lead our attention to that fact that human beings, irrespective of ideas about ‘indivisibility’ have dif­ferent perspectives, and in a sense are different persons depending on the com­municative contexts they are parts of” (Helle-Valle, this volume). ‘Dividuality’ thus depends on social context. Everybody, in Africa as elsewhere, belong to mul­tiple social contexts, in and out of which they move routinely. Different social contexts of relevance for studies of sexuality are sex in contexts of marriage, and extra­marital sex. During fieldwork in Botswana Helle-Valle noticed widespread practic­es of extra-marital sexual relationships, locally termed bobolete. These relationships belonged to social contexts, which were locally defined and recognized as distinc­tively different from the marital setting, and different rules would apply to sex in these different settings, a social norm regarding discretion being important in contexts of extra-marital sex. Keeping in mind the distinction introduced above between ‘sex for pleasure’ and ‘sex for procreation’, this distinction between ‘ex­tra-marital’ sex and ‘sex in contexts of marriage’, may be seen as a qualification: there is a partial, not total overlap between the two. In principle sex for procrea­tion should always take place in contexts of marriage, but sometimes sex for pleasure may take place in contexts of marriage as well (cf. Diallo’s chapter).

Re-Thinking Sexualities in Africa: Introduction