Desire has had notoriously negative connotations in southern African contexts due to its association with racialized and gendered violence as part of the region’s experience of settler colonialism. In this book, desire in South African and Zimbabwean fiction and poetry written between 1960-2005 is re-evaluated as a positive force that can contravene the racially exclusive identity discourses of the region’s history. In a context where rationalism failed to offer ways out of colonial violence, affective impulses towards the other – associated here with Levinas’ eros, as well as Derrida’s friendship and hospitality – become a boundary-breaking energy that can redefine both the body and the nation. Through the trope of dissident desire, the creolisation and hybridity of culture and identity in southern Africa is emphasized, placing the region at a crossroads of cultures and as part of a cosmopolitan community. The study has implications for recent developments in South African and Zimbabwean history and politics, where racial and ethnic nationalisms are seen to have clandestinely entered the discourses of multiculturalism and development.