Project on Sex History (POSH) — An Archival and Oral Historical Project – South Africa, 1910-2010
This research project aims to produce substantial evidence about the history of sexual ideas, practices and behaviour in individual life journeys in South Africa in the twentieth century. The primary objective of the research project is to gather and archive historical information upon which the study of sexuality can proceed in a more rigorous, discriminating and empirically-based direction. Before they are lost to posterity, elderly people, in their seventies and eighties, represent the main source of such information.
A project on the sex history of South Africans over the 20th century was inconceivable in previous decades. Since the adoption of a new constitution in 1996 a rights-based, legal framework addressing sexualities, sexual orientation and gender equity came into being. This de jure framework has not yet replaced long standing de facto cultures and practices of sexualities. New urgency, occasioned by dis-ease with gender based violence and its relation to sexual practices, and a sense of the declining texture and depth of intimate relationships, as well as by biomedical and moral debates emerging in the context of the regional HIV epidemic, have all made possible this investigation: an oral history of sex through the narratives of elderly South Africans.