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CentreLGS at Kent Seminar and Events Programme

Past Events 2007/2008


Tuesday 25 September 2007   (4.00pm)

Anna Kirkland, University of Michigan, USA

Contesting the “Obesity Epidemic”:  Where is Feminism?

While there is a robust tradition in the United States of feminist work criticizing the idealized female body in our culture, feminist scholars have not generally been very skeptical of the “obesity epidemic” and its accompanying discourses of risk, personal responsibility, blame, and panic.  Most of the critical work about obesity published in English (from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands, and Australia, for instance) has been written by law professors, sociologists, and political and social theorists, and not from a feminist or sexuality studies perspective.  While there’s nothing per se wrong with that scholarly development and there are some interesting reasons for it, it is nonetheless time to address the absence of feminism in critical obesity research more closely.  First, in what ways is the “obesity epidemic” gendered?  Do we really need a feminist perspective on it?  Second, what are the implications of fat rights for feminist legal theory, and vice versa?  Drawing on research from my forthcoming book, Fat Rights:  Dilemmas of Difference and Personhood (NYU 2008) and from a recently completed interview study of fat acceptance activists (nearly all of them women), this talk will explore the relationships between feminist legal theories about discrimination and claims of the nascent fat rights movement.  I will argue that both critical sites should deepen their mutual engagement because each needs the other to address unsolved problems presented by current forms of individualism, risk and health discourses, and rights-claiming in contemporary Western societies.

CentreLGS Common Room


Thursday 4 October 2007  (4.30pm)

Nicki Sullivan, Macquarie University, Australia

"Queer(ing) Paraphilias? Apotemnophilia, Acrotomophilia and Autogynephilia"

In 1977 John Money, a medical psychologist and sexologist renowned for his work on ‘atypical’ sexual desires, practices, and forms of embodiment, published the first modern case histories of what he called ‘apotemnophilia’, literally meaning ‘amputation love’ (Money, Jobaris & Furth 1977). Thus from its inception as a clinically authorized phenomenon, the desire for the amputation of a healthy limb or limbs was constituted as a sexual perversion conceptually related to other so-called paraphilias such as acrotomophilia, transvestic fetishism, and autogynephilia – of which I’ll go on to say something about shortly. Despite the central role that the body clearly plays in the desires that consume those most often referred to as wannabes, the corporeal or material aspects of this phenomenon (if indeed desires for amputation can be said to constitute a singular phenomenon) were elided in Money’s model by a focus on the psyche as the source of psycho-sexual perversion. More recently the desires of wannabes have come to be regarded as evidence of an identity disorder rather than a sexual one (Bayne & Levy 2005; Furth & Smith 2002; Horn 2003; First 2005; Smith 2004), variously labelled Amputee Identity Disorder (AID), and Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). But despite this shift, the desire for amputation continues to be regarded by some as a paraphilia. Moreover, a desire for amputees is rarely (if ever?) theorized as anything other than paraphilic. This paper engages with sex-based accounts of amputation-related desires and practices, not in order to substantiate the paraphilic model, but rather, because the conception of these (no doubt) heterogeneous desires and practices as symptoms of a paraphilic condition (or conditions) highlights some interesting cultural assumptions [SOMATECHNICS]  about ‘disability’ and ‘normalcy’, their (seemingly inherent) (un)desirability, and their relation to sexuality. In turn – just in case anyone still needs convincing (and clearly some people still do) – this analysis substantiates the contention that paraphilias are less innate or individual psycho-sexual pathologies, than an effect of the “multiplication of disparate sexualities” (1980: 49) of which Foucault has spoken at length in The History of Sexuality Volume One (a point I’ll return to later in the paper).

CentreLGS common room


Wednesday 17 October 2007  (4.30pm)

Brinda Bose, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, India

LGBTQKP: The Politics and Legalities of Sexual Identities in India Today

Having just co-edited an anthology of academic and activist writing on the status of queer sexualities in India today (The Phobic and the Erotic: The Politics of Sexualities in Contemporary India, Calcutta and London: Seagull Books, 2007), I will use that material in this presentation try to identify the coordinates by which the sexualities map of India may presently be mapped. The rise and consolidation of the right-wing in the governance of the country through the 1990s resulted in the creation and display of an ‘Indianness’ that was claimed to be traditional, conservative and historically sound. Issues of gender and sexuality were fore-fronted as one of the chief makers of this identity, and the heteronorm constantly validated as the marker against which an essential Indianness could be tested. Paradoxically enough, the turn of the century has also seen in India an overwhelming visibilisation of debates around sexualities, almost as if the repressive tendencies of the ‘Hindutva’ government sparked an unsought repercussion in socio-cultural arenas. The need to question the assumption of the (hetero)-norm as a given – and to seek validation for non-procreative, non-heterosexual and therefore non-normative sexual identities and behaviours – is now continuously endorsed in the public space, even as repressive practices, both legal and illegal, abound. This has resulted in a fascinating, if complex, terrain upon which queer sexualities in India battle for rights and recognition.

EX9 (Eliot extension, KLS)


Wednesday 24 October 2007  (4.30pm)

Marie-Pierre Moreau and Heather Mendick, London Metropolitan University,

Masculinities, heterosexuality and whiteness in Hollywood popular culture constructions of mathematicians: challenging or reinstating the clichés?

In this paper, we explore constructions of mathematicians in popular culture and the ways people make meanings of these. Drawing on an analysis of (mainly Hollywood) popular culture ‘texts’, it suggests that discourses produced by popular culture overwhelmingly construct mathematicians as white, heterosexual and middle-class men. Yet, despite being part of these dominant groups, we argue that mathematicians are constructed as ‘others’, through systems of binary oppositions between them and those ‘not doing maths’ or whose ability in mathematics is supposedly lower, and we reflect on the theoretical implications of it for the study of equity and social justice issues.

Drawing on a corpus of interviews and focus groups with school and university students, we also enquire on how such images are deployed by boys and girls in their choice as to whether to continue with mathematics or not. More specifically, how do these discourses echo or challenge dominant representations of mathematicians in popular culture described earlier? We reflect on the practical implications for teaching and learning mathematics.

On another level, the paper questions whether popular culture constructions of mathematicians contribute to challenging or reinstating the clichés about who does maths and who is good at doing maths, as well as the norms of (white, heterosexual, middle-class) masculinities.

This paper draws on an ESRC-funded project, Mathematical Images and Identities exploring how young people position themselves in relation to popular representations of mathematics and mathematicians. Data has been collected through ‘texts’ and interviews with school and university students to explore how they construct their selves as (non-) mathematical people.

EX7 (Eliot extension, KLS)


Wednesday 31 October 2007 (4.30pm)

Karen Gross, Southern Vermont College

Women and Money: Why the Psychodynamics Matter

This presentation will look at how women view and handle money in lives and the impact money behaviour and money myths have on women themselves, their families, the workplace and larger public policy decision-making. Money is a complex language, and our capacity to "speak it" is informed by, among other variables, our gender, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, educative level, class, family experiences, mood, emotion and social constructs and context. Legal systems dealing with money (i.e. social security, health benefits, insurance, indebtedness, alimony and maintenance, child support, credit, damage awards, charitable giving, mass tort/disaster resolution) often fail to take account of the foregoing complexities and as such, optimal results, at least from the perspective of many women, are commonly not achieved. While the majority of the examples will be drawn from US experiences, the concepts are transportable across borders, with appropriate adaptations.

EX9 (Eliot extension, KLS)


Monday 12 November 2007  (4.30pm)

Keynes Lecture Theatre 6

Miranda Joseph, University of Arizona, USA

The Force of Accounting . . . to Society, to Community, to the Other

It is a commonplace to say that criminals pay their “debt to society” by spending time in prison. This commonplace provokes many questions, among them: How is the term debt operating in this phrase? Is it a metaphor? What is the connection between juridical debt and financial debt? What mode of accounting is naturalized in this phrase?

This presentation explores the intertwined emergence of incarceration as the punishment for crime and bankruptcy law as the technology for debt. It suggests that liberal juridical accounting – based on the notions of the social contract and the rule of law – and modern financial accounting are likewise deeply interwined. Both legitimate themselves through their rule-boundedness (eliding the force beyond, and integral to, the rules and their application) and link particular subjects to abstract society. This presentation also explores and compares two critiques of this mode of accounting: the Restorative Justice movement, which proposes that criminal debts should be paid to “community” rather than society; and Derrida’s argument, in “The Force of Law,” which proposes that justice depends on the force, or decision, beyond the rule of law, made in a mode of accountability to the Other. 


Tuesday 13 November 2007   (1.00-2.00pm)

CentreLGS Common room

Informal lunch-time discussion on:

Accountability and Debt to the Other

Drawing on the lecture by Miranda Joseph and the work of Irene Watson.


Thursday 15 November 2007 (4.30pm)


Irene Watson, University of Sydney, Australia

Law-full woman: an exploration of the self–determination of Aboriginal women’s laws and lives, their colonisation and the possibilities for decolonisation

I am currently mapping Australian law and its attempt to embody Aboriginal law and culture.  My work explores questions of universality and the possibility or otherwise of available space for Aboriginal law and culture.  I particularly focus on Aboriginal women’s law. The colonisation of Aboriginal women is a continuing phenomenon within Australia; this paper focuses on the practical and theoretical difficulties which arise from our working towards creating space for Aboriginal women to discuss and activate our own particular strategies for the alleviation of the socio-political-economic-cultural crises which afflict many Aboriginal people’s lives and communities across Australia, results of the colonial project.  In June 2007 the Australian Federal government announced its own strategy to intervene in the ‘crisis’ within Northern Territory Aboriginal communities, in its Northern Territory National Emergency Response Bill (Cth) 2007.  The intervention is already underway and is being led, like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, by the Australian military.  According to the Australian government this intervention is to save the lives of Aboriginal children and what is to be transformed are the lives of Aboriginal peoples living on Aboriginal lands that are recognized as such under the (Cth) NT Aboriginal Land Rights Act.  This paper will explore the law-full voices of Aboriginal women within those ‘saved’ and ‘transformed’ spaces.


Wednesday 21 November 2007 (4.30pm)

Senate Chamber

Claudia Card, University of Wisconsin

Ticking Bombs and Interrogations

Torture is like slavery (and unlike genocide and murder) in that the idea that it can be justified is not self-contradictory. But the circumstances of its tolerability are unrealistic in philosophically interesting ways. It is unrealistic to think we can predict when interrogational torture will be effective and containable, unwarranted to suppose humane alternatives impossible, disastrous to reduce
motivations to create such alternatives. Given torture's extremity, it is unacceptable to be satisfied with evidence available to potential torturers regarding a suspect's identity, knowledge of critical detail, ability to recall it, or reasons for not providing it, and the costs of even successful torture would negate its gains. I am convinced that there is no moral excuse for torture in our world. Perhaps one can imagine a different world in which torture might be tolerable. But that world it not ours. Let's see if I can convince you.


Friday 23 November (1pm) centreLGS common room.  

Discussion on the following topic:  

How our work evolves in the light of changing political commitments/ beliefs, and how these changing beliefs impact on the kinds of work we do. This might mean changes to what we research, how we research it, or to the intellectual tools we use as we see the world or the possibilities for radical transformation in different ways over time.   With participation of Visiting Scholar Claudia Card


Wednesday 5 December 2007  (4.30pm)

EX9 (Eliot extension, KLS)

Dania Thomas, Keele University

Good faith in sovereign debt restructuring: mapping a shift from enforcement to voluntary compliance

In the absence of a global, multilateral, regulatory framework for sovereign debt restructuring, our examination of changes in the period leading up to the Argentine debt exchange and after, reveals that with the adoption of Collective Action Clauses (touted as a market-driven solution to debt crises in the future), market participants are increasingly relying on varying notions of good faith to influence the way market participants behave in the event of a restructuring.

Good faith, though entrenched as a legal norm in several domestic jurisdictions, such as Germany and the U.S., is a relative newcomer to sovereign debt workouts. This evolving norm is not institutionally embedded and unlike the domestically entrenched version, it is not a legal rule with specific requirements that need to be fulfilled. It is instead an evolving, ‘open’ norm with the courts and informal, ad hoc coalitions of market participants each recognising their versions of good faith as the appropriate standard of fair dealing.

This paper argues that this increased reliance on good faith is evidence of a shift in the framework that regulates sovereign debt restructurings: a shift from enforcement to voluntary compliance. This shift has been overlooked by the regulatory debate on the issue. Consequently, it does not account for the social impact of sovereign defaults and further marginalises the possibility of a political debate about the nature and scope of a sovereign’s obligation to repay unsustainable debt or about the appropriate role of the state in society and the economy.


Monday 21 January (4:30pm)

Catherine Healy, she is a member of the New Zealand Prostitution Law Review Committee and the national co-ordinator of the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective.

You are invited to hear about New Zealand's decriminalization of prostitution, Sweden's criminalization of clients, and the effects on women's health and safety.

As repressive legislation to “rehabilitate” prostitute women and criminalise clients is considered by Parliament, experts from Sweden and New Zealand speak on the daily implications of these laws for women’s safety. Are prostitute women ignorant victims?  Immoral criminals?  Or are they workers who deserve respect and support?  What do the women think of the government proposals to “rehabilitate” them and criminalise clients?  Would these proposals stop the trafficking of women for prostitution?  How different is this trafficking from trafficking for agricultural, domestic or other service work?  What do other women think of the feminist claim that all prostitutes are victims who cannot be left to decide about their own bodies and about how to make a living?  Is prostitution uniquely degrading or is it uniquely degraded by criminalisation?

As the UK parliament currently considers legislation to "rehabilitate" prostitutes and possibly criminalize sex-work clients, and as the trial began this week for the murder of 5 sex workers in Ipswich, this topic is particularly relevant. 

Title: Should prostitution be decriminalized?

Venue: Keynes Seminar Room 16


Thursday 24 January (5pm)

Avery Gordon, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA. Visiting Faculty at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths College.

She is the author of Keeping Good Time: Reflections on Knowledge, Power and People and Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, among other works.

Title: Criminalizing the Enemy: From the Prisoner of War to the Enemy Combatant

Abstract: This talk charts the transition from prisoner of war to enemy combatant.  It argues that the idea of the enemy combatant is an attempt to undo the de-criminalization of the enemy the two Geneva Conventions established.  It analyzes the legal reasoning that the Bush government used to achieve their aims and raises questions about the relationship between enemy and criminal in the context of permanent war.  

Venue: Keynes Seminar Room 11


Thursday 31 January (1.30pm)

Oliver Phillips, Reader in Law, Westminster University, UK

Title: Constitutions in a Postcolonial Frame: The Indivisibility of Rights

Abstract: This paper will outline the extent to which the broader political dynamics that shape postcolonial national identities determine the reception and delivery of more egalitarian notions of gender and sexuality. Key examples from the recent histories of South Africa (such as the rape trial of Jacob Zuma) and Zimbabwe (the passage of a new Domestic Violence Act), illustrate the manner in which gender and sexuality are deployed to reinvent and reinvigorate the role of authenticity in what is often characterized as a contest between the promise of rights and the security of custom. However, these Southern African examples suggest that the broader issues of constitutional legitimacy, economic development, wealth distribution, and the vagaries of political opportunism are key factors in shaping postcolonial gender relations.
Zimbabwe and South Africa appear to exhibit contrasting relationships between State and citizen, most particularly in relation to human rights. The striking differences in their constitutional frameworks were specifically shaped by the particularities of their different transitions to democracy, and this continues to shape constitutional credibility and political authority within the two countries. This has had notable implications for the legitimacy of judicial and political power, and the role of rights in national politics. It has also been an important factor in framing their consequent relationships with Britain, the USA, and other African nations. But the longer it takes to tackle poverty in South Africa, the more impotent appear the promises of the South African constitution, and the more its subjects question the values and rights associated with it. Continued failure to tackle economic disparities thus renders the values of gendered and sexual equality inscribed in the constitution ever more vulnerable, making them more readily hostage to political opportunism.

This paper will articulate the different constitutional reconciliations of claims to equal rights with claims to cultural authenticity, and claims to individual autonomy with claims to primal sovereignty. It will situate their strength and impact within their political contexts, in an attempt to consider how gendered and sexual rights might be more productively advanced in the context of the economic and political relations that typify contemporary postcolonial contexts. 

Venue: CentreLGS


Wednesday 6 February (2pm) [a joint KLS/CentreLGS workshop]

Workshop on Religion, Race, Law

With: Maleiha Malik and David Seymour

Venue: Kent Law School EX9 (Eliot Extension)


Wednesday 13 February (5pm)

Angie Wilson, Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, Manchester University, UK

Title: "Why Europe is 'gay friendly' (and why America will never be)"

Abstract: One response to the increasing ‘lesbian and gay friendly’ within many Western European countries would be to wonder why similar policies were not being more readily adopted within the US. This paper outlines a few reasons for this difference by focusing on the fundamental ideological differences, the contrasting political cultures, and the variations in political language required by activists within these seemingly similar democratic settings. In doing so, it will offer as evidence points of comparison in the areas of welfare-capitalism, religiosity and family policy.  

Venue: CentreLGS


Tuesday 19th February (5pm)

Sarah Spencer, CBE, Associate Director of the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford and Chair of the Equality and Diversity Forum, the network of equality and human rights organisations. She is a former Deputy Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, and a former Director of Liberty.

Title: ‘The New Equality and Human Rights Commission: A Decade in the Making’

Abstract: The speaker will talk about her forthcoming article in Political Quarterly which traces the debates, tensions, opportunities and compromises that finally led, after a difficult labour, to the birth of the commission in October last year. Contentious debates on the commission’s human rights, race, disability and community relations mandates; the impact of devolution and of a fractured Whitehall responsibility for equality issues; and the significant influence of Parliament and of NGOs on the policy process, are among issues that will be explored. While the focus is now on what the new commission can achieve, a recap of that recent history throws light on some of the challenges the commission now faces.

Venue: Keynes Seminar Room 14


Wednesday 27th February (5pm)

Surya Monro, Senior Research Fellow, Policy Research Institute, Faculty of Business & Law, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK

Title: "Engaging Complexities: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equalities Initiatives and Local Democracy in the UK"

Abstract: A number of the recent developments in local government provide powerful levers for the revitalisation of local democracy with regards to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality.  However, these directives exist in contradiction to the centralising tendencies inherent in New Labour’s approach to local government, which emphasises top-down management and financial efficiency. New Labour’s drive towards locality-based democratic renewal also sits in partial contradiction with the interests of LGBT people, whose identities are not necessarily defined by where they live.  In addition, there are tensions between LGBT interests and those of the faith and BME communities, and a need to examine the ways in which these play out in the democratic arena.   Further issues concern the way in which the democratic processes that are taking place as a result of the local government modernisation agenda may provoke clashes between the representative and formal participative structures found in the statutory sector and the flatter types of organisation that are more typical of community groups.  Lastly, there are ongoing debates about universalist, as opposed to particularist, approaches to democratic participation.  Do gender and sexual minorities require methods of engagement specific to their sexed/gendered identities, or are mainstreamed approaches that amalgamate groups and emphasise alliances more appropriate?

This paper explores the above debates, drawing on two empirical research projects: A completed central government funded project about equality and diversity in local government in England, and an ESRC funded study of LGBT equalities in local government, which is currently in its early stages.

Venue: KLS Committee Room (Eliot Extension)


Tuesday 4 March (5pm)

Cheshire Calhoun, Professor of Philosophy, Arizona State University, USA

Title: "Hope Matters"

Abstract: Why does hope matter? On one common view hope just is a desire for some state of affairs that one believes is possible, and there is no reason to think that all hopes matter (many are trivial). Many have argued that hope matters only when it sustains agency under conditions of adversity that invite despair. Against this view, I argue that a good account of why hopes matters to agents should do two things: (1) enable us to see why the capacity to hope, no matter how trivial the hopes are, is an interesting and significant capacity; and (2) enable us to see why a certain range of hopes that only agents can have are distinctively important but without insisting that the hopes that matter to agents must be able to sustain agency even under conditions of extreme adversity. I try to sketch out what such an account would look like.

Venue: Keynes Lecture Theatre 3


Monday, 17 March (5pm)

Lisa Freeman, PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning, and is a Junior Fellow at the Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto.

Title: Queer/Feminist Theory in Legal Geography and Rooming Houses: Is there space?

Abstract: In 1974, the City of Toronto attempted to institutionalize standards for Rooming House fire protection and maintenance through inspections and a mandatory licensing procedure. This rooming house by-law was designed around an imagined geography of a distinct ‘skid row’ population of vagrant single men in Toronto’s downtown core. Today the identities of rooming house occupants (‘roomers’) do not conform to the 1970s imaginary of the ‘skid row’ vagrant yet the licensing and regulatory procedure has not changed.  In this discussion I will explore ways in which queer and feminist theory can help inform debates around the regulation of urban space and liminal citizenship of Toronto’s roomers. While it is evident that people inhabiting rooming houses have changed significantly from the vagrant single male of the 1970s, our approach to studying the regulation of urban spaces and identities in those spaces also needs to change. My contribution to this change is to  explore the interplay between queer and feminist theoretical notions of disidentification, emerging ideas about identities/subjectivities, the difference between public/private space, and current trends in urban/legal geographic approaches to citizenship and space.

Venue: CentreLGS


Wednesday 26 March 2008 (1pm)

Jean Fraser will talk about her project "Drawing Breath", an arts and health project about breath and breathing based around a cycle ride in summer 2007 searching for oxygen on the Kent and East Sussex coast, and the conversations and conditions encountered on the way - a landscape adventure about survival and what remains possible as we grow older.


Venue: Kent Law School EX8 (Eliot Extension)


Wednesday 2 April 2008 (5pm)

Aeyal Gross, Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Title: ' "Thinking Is in the Grey Area": Family, Home, Gender and Diaspora in the Paper Dolls'

Abstract: The stories of Philippine migrant workers in Israel who put on drag shows was documented in Tomer Heymann's film Paper Dolls. The diasporic-immigrant identity represented in the film blends elements of gender and sexuality configurations typical of the country of origin with those characteristic of Israel. The “Paper Dolls” are depicted in the movie as “gays”, but since they not only appear in drag at the club at night but some actually live a full feminine gender identity, in many senses, they are more reminiscent of transgenders. My talk will look at the role of gender performance in the life of the immigrant worker, as a site that challenges his usual role in citizenship stratification in Israel: for the Paper Dolls, the gender boundary crossing in their shows is also a channel for performance of Israelism. When they perform Israeli songs, we see how the gender performance is also an avenue for the performance of nationalism— nationalism that is not purified Israelism (just as gender is not purified) but is instead hybridic. This discussion raises also questions  regarding what is home, what is family, and what is kinship: the Paper Dolls as a group constitutes for its members both family and home that exist outside the normative models of home and family. But this hybridity encounters a number of formidable regulatory mechanisms—on the sexuality and gender axis that does not fall under either the gay or transsexual models, on the family and home axis that does not fall under the patriarchal-heterosexual model of kinship, and on the nationalism axis that does not fall under the ethno-national model that is so strong in Israel. This queer hybridity runs up against the homonormative regulation of the Israeli gay community as well as the nationalistic regulation of the Israeli Immigration Police.

Venue: Kent Law School EX 9 (Eliot Extension)


Thursday 8 May 2008 (5pm)

Devon Carbado, Professor of Law, UCLA Law School, USA

Title: Acting White: What’s Sexual Orientation Got to Do with It?

Abstract: My presentation will focus on drawing connections between race and sexual orientation. Significantly, I will not be arguing that the identity categories themselves are the same. Elsewhere I have explored why that kind of analogizing can be both productive and problematic. Instead, I will suggest that the social processes that make race and sexual orientation intelligible to us are similar. More specifically, my claim is that, like sexual orientation, race can be conceptualized in terms of both status and conduct. The point is not that people actually experience their identities in terms of this dichotomy (though some do) but rather that the dichotomy is socially ascribed to both categories. The most public example of this social ascription is the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” regime, the policy the United States military employs to police the participation of gays and lesbians in the Armed Forces. My aim is neither to endorse nor support this policy. I invoke it here because it reflects a logic about sexual orientation that is widespread—namely, that it is both a conduct and a status identity. What I am suggesting here is that so is race, not in some ontological true sense but in the sense of how that social category is produced and perceived. To the extent that both status and conduct are socially constitutive, it means that a person’s vulnerability to discrimination turns not only on whether that person occupies a social category in an identity status sense (whether, for example, a person is black and/or gay) but also on how that person is perceived to act out or perform that identity (whether, for example, the black and/or gay person is perceived to act white and/or or act straight). In this sense, focusing on the link between status identity, on the one hand, and performance identity, on the other, helps to reveal how race and sexual orientation are constructed, regulated and managed.    

Venue: EX9


Tuesday 13 May 2008 (5pm)

Anastasia Vakulenko

Title: Interrogating the frames of the Islamic dress debate

Abstract: What has Islamic dress come to represent in the current historical political moment? In short: lack of agency, gender oppression and Islamic radicalism threatening western secular values. To others, in contrast, it signifies a positive autonomous choice, women's empowerment and a legitimate exercise of one's freedom of religion. In both cases, there is a characteristically late modern set of frames at play: the preoccupation with autonomy and choice, the imperative of gender equality and a particular secular understanding of religion and religious subjectivity. With insignificant variation, these frames shape the positions of both the proponents and opponents of various bans of the wearing of Islamic dress as the debate is played out inside and outside the courtrooms. Rather than taking a position on one or the other side of the debate, the paper makes the case for interrogating the frames that contain it. The approach for the analysis is inspired by the critical thought of Wendy Brown, insights from postcolonial feminism and emerging critical religious studies.

Venue: CentreLGS common room, Eliot College (W2 N5)


30th July 2008 @ 1pm
Lunchtime talk next Wednesday

'Sexuality and Global Faith Networks'

A presentation by the Leeds research team: Gill Valentine, Robert Vanderbeck, Kevin Ward, Joanna Sadgrove, and Johan Andersson

A number of recent debates have taken place both within the worldwide Anglican Communion and the media concerning the future direction of the Church. These debates have been triggered in part by differing views on the stance the Church should adopt in relation to issues including the ordination of lesbian and gay clergy and the recognition and blessing of same-sex relationships.

Questions have been raised about the future of the worldwide Communion and the possibility of 'schism' given the diversity of perspectives on these issues, with some churches boycotting the 2008 Lambeth Conference. This presentation will discuss the design of and preliminary insights from a 28-month project entitled 'Sexuality and Global Faith Networks' funded by the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme.

The project explores the debate about sexuality and faith within three national nodes of the worldwide Anglican communion: the UK, USA, and South Africa. Specifically, the talk will address recent insights gained from fieldwork in Jerusalem at the recent Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON), a gathering of Anglicans seeking to counter 'liberalising' tendencies within the Church. The team will also reflect on its analysis of media coverage of the developing 'schism' in the Church, including the growing influence of the 'blogosphere' on the nature of debate in the Church and the public sphere.

All welcome

Venue: the CentreLGS common room


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