The Erotic as an Act of Resistance to the Despotism of the State: Nuruddin Farah’s Sweet and Sour Milk as an Example

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter deals with the relationship between the erotic and the political as presented in resistance literature. Accepting the erotic is by default dissident; embracing it goes against the conservatives of any society especially a tribal one. The study focuses on narratives that emerged under the rule of postcolonial regimes in the 60s and how they played a role in resisting oppression that is no less important than that of armed resistance. The Somali writer Nuruddin Farah’s novel Sweet and Sour Milk will be an example of how the despotic authority of the state and gender enslavement are two sides of the same coin. In highlighting the elements of resistance in the text, the analysis will take into consideration Ghassan Kanafani, who introduced the concept of resistance literature, as well as Barbara Harlow’s further studies on the topic. Moreover, George Bataille’s theories are also used to explore how eroticism breaks down established social patterns along with Foucault’s ideas of the body and its relationship to disciplinary power. The body in the novel or, more precisely, the female body resists through many ways and one of them is through its erotic practice. Women’s bodies are associated with the erotic and the erotic is associated with the forbidden. The text also resists through the eroticization of female characters’ sexuality within a patriarchal framework that projects its collective subjugation on the condemned female erotica. The chapter concludes that the ways in which eroticism is employed in resistance narratives liberates the body from the overarching authority and suggests that there is a point of intersection between the theories of Bataille and Foucault that foregrounds the aspect of transcendence in the erotic experience which leads to dissidence and thus resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRevolt and Revolution: The Protester in the 21st Century
EditorsEuripides Altintzoglou, Martin Fredriksson
ISBN (Print)9781848884564
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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