Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
SP11: Sexual Citizenship in Europe and Beyond - with Diane Richardson, Greg Thorpe and Roman Kuhar
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Chiara Bertone, University of Eastern Piedmont
Session Chair: Sue Scott, Newcastle University
Location: The Bridgewater Hall
Lower Mosley Street Manchester, M2 3WS

Session Abstract

organised by the ESA President with RN23 - Additional speaker: Greg Thorpe, Manchester Pride, UK with a talk on "Pride, Past and Present: Links with Arts and Culture in Manchester"

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Making and Unmaking Sexual Citizenship: From Past, Present to Future

Diane Richardson

Newcastle University, United Kingdom

Over the last two and a half decades the literature on the interrelations between sexuality and citizenship has rapidly expanded to become an important area of study across a number of disciplines, including sociology. Associated with this, sexual citizenship has become a key concept in the social sciences. It describes the rights and responsibilities of citizens in sexual and intimate life, including debates over equal marriage and women’s human rights, as well as shaping thinking about citizenship more generally. Sexualities is also, increasingly, a discourse of human rights with growing global concerns for ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ (SOGI) issues. This body of work extends beyond sexuality and citizenship studies and connects to a wide range of issues central to sociological enquiry including: understandings of identity and community; equality; neoliberalism and governmentality; individualization; nationalisms; and processes of globalization. Yet, while sexual citizenship is a term that is used by more and more people in a plurality of contexts, it is increasingly voiced uncritically. What does it mean in a continually changing political landscape of gender and sexuality? It is time for a critical rethink that encompasses a de-centering of a ‘western-centric’ focus, and considers the implications for future conceptual and empirical development, as well as for political activism.


Diane Richardson is Professor of Sociology in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. She is internationally recognised for her work in the areas of feminism and the sociological study of gender and sexualities. Her recent research explores issues of identity, citizenship, recognition and belonging, and debates about equality. Her book Sexuality and Citizenship (2018, Polity) was based on a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship project entitled Transforming Citizenship?: Sexuality, Gender and Citizenship Struggles. Other books include Rethinking Sexuality; Contesting Recognition: Culture, Identity and Citizenship (with J. McLaughlin and P. Phillimore); Intersections Between Feminism and Queer Theory (with J. McLaughlin and M. Casey); and Sexuality, Equality and Diversity (with S. Monro). A fifth edition of Introducing Gender and Women’s Studies, co-edited with Vicki Robinson, will be published in 2020. With Vicki, she also co-edits Palgrave Macmillan’s international book series Genders and Sexualities in the Social Sciences.

Anti-Gender Movements in Europe

Roman Kuhar

University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Numerous countries in Western and Eastern Europe, in Latin America and in some other parts of the world have recently been faced with a fierce opposition to ensuring rights deriving from intimate/sexual citizenship issues. Mass protests against marriage equality, reproductive rights, gender mainstreaming and sexual education have centralised around the so called “gender theory” or “gender ideology”. It is explained that the very notion of “gender” is in fact a hidden plan of “radical” feminists and LGBT activists, a new type of Marxism, aiming at nothing less than a cultural revolution: a post-binary gender world, where there is no place for “natural families”, masculinity, femininity etc. “Gender theory” has become an empty signifier, an all-inclusive and catch-all mobilising tool, used by various (religious) groups, political parties and even state establishments to prevent equality policies from being adopted and implemented.

The contribution will map out and explore the emergence, the content and the effects of the “gender ideology” (or “gender theory”) discourse. It will examine how an academic concept of gender became a mobilising tool for neo-conservative social movements and massive street demonstrations and how the concept of human rights, which has been used until recently by the proponents of gender and LGBT equality, is now being (ab)used by neo-conservative actors.


Roman Kuhar is professor of sociology at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, and teaches courses on gender, sexuality, popular culture and everyday life. Currently he is the dean of the Faculty of Arts and the head of the research programme The Problems of Autonomy and Identity in the Times of Globalization.

He is the author of several books, among others Media Construction of Homosexuality, co-author (with A. Švab) of The Unbearable Comfort of Privacy and co-editor (with J. Takács) of Beyond the Pink Curtain: Everyday life of LGBT people in Eastern Europe and (with D. Paternotte) of Anti-gender Campaigns in Europe: mobilizing against equality (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017. Translation into French: Campagnes anti-genre en Europe: des mobilisations contre l'égalité, 2018, Presses Universitaires de Lyon). He is also one of the associate editors at Social Politics (Oxford University Press).

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