By Rachel Jackson '14
On Monday, March 18, Rudolf P. Gaudio, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Media, Society and the Arts at Purchase College, SUNY gave the presentation, “God Keep a Secret: Language, Sexuality and Space in Islamic Northern Nigeria” in the CAPA Symposium. Gaudio’s piece was the first of four Social Science Colloquiums that will be taking place this term, all of which will be within the Anthropology discipline in a series titled “What’s Hot in Anthropology?”
Gaudio, a sociolinguistic anthropologist, has written on many topics that address language, sexuality, and space, and presented the research he collected while completing his graduate work in Nigeria in the early nineties, and the ways in which the topic has evolved since then. Through a series of photos, songs, and recordings, Gaudio presented the lives of men and women living in a way that does not represent the traditional heteronormative fashion generally expected in Nigeria, particularly in the more conservative north. Gaudio offered the interesting place that those who do not live within the general expectations of gender have in Nigerian society, with predetermined terms for things such as a man who “acts like a woman” (dun daudu).
Through his research Gaudio has observed the differences in space and language between those living inside and out of the norm, and throughout his presentation he expounded upon the instances in which they are separated and blurred. A recording that he played at the end of his piece exemplified the typical language spoken amongst those who live outside the boundaries of expected behavior, including dun daudu and prostitutes, and showed that, while they do accept that their lives exist outside of typical society, there are still boundaries that have been ingrained in them that even they will not cross. While they are aware that much of their lives are separated from the ordinary, they still abide by patriarchal standards, such as the expectation and necessity to have a wife and children.