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Seminar: 'The problem of the state in gender and sexuality thinking and politics'

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Location: R0.12

What 'state' are we in? Re-visiting the problem of the state in gender and sexuality thinking and politics

a talk by Sonia Corrêa (Sexuality Policy Watch; LSE - Department of Gender Studies)

(discussant: Liz Ablett, University of Warwick)


Over the course of the last twenty years or so, multiple strands of genders and sexualities organizing and mobilizing, both North and South of the Equator, have moved from critical and distanced positionality in relation to the state towards engagement with the law, human rights, and biopolitical apparatuses and devices (in particular biomedicine). This displacement is not trivial as it locates its actors, subjects and substance of this politics in the realms of norm codification and power deployment and has created multilayered tensions and rifts both within sexual politics and at cross roads of theorizing and action. Questions have been and continued to be raised about if and how transformative politics of genders and sexualities can or not engage ‘the state’.

Although these questions are far from new, they gain new contours, ramifications and complications under current conditions of both national and global conjunctures characterized by right wing populist revivals (sometimes in fascist manifestations), the prevalence of a cynical electoral and parliamentarian politics and authoritarian entrenchment of sovereignties. Under these conditions, if the politics of genders and sexualities are indeed committed to intersectionality the global problem of states being shrunk to their managerial and police functions (in some cases imperialist policing) and stripped of its enabling infra structural role can be hardly circumvented.

The lecture will chart past and present debates around engaging the state, through the revisiting of authors within and outside gender and sexuality field. In doing so it will recapture and highlight streams of Latin American theorizing on the ‘the state as a problem” that have not travelled much, particularly in what concerns the religious imprints in the tutelary features of state formation. While mapping the theoretical underpinnings of the debate it will also bring to the discussion empirical illustrations of the multilayered angles of gender and sexuality claims of juridical belonging and social inclusion, including the contentions with the religious and some of their paradoxical effects. These excursions do not aim to exhaust the questions previously raised, but they might add new interrogations to this area of inquiry.


Speaker Bio:

Since the late 1970´s Sonia Corrêa has been involved in research and advocacy activities related to gender equality, health and sexuality. Sonia co-chairs Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW), a global forum comprised of researchers and activists engaged in the analyses of global trends in sexuality related policy and politics. She is currently a Visiting Leverhulme Professor at the Department of Gender Studies, LSE.


The seminar will chaired by Dr Maria do Mar Pereira (Department of Sociology, and Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, University of Warwick).


This event is free and open to all, and refreshments will be provided.

We ask that participants book in advance to make sure we order the right amount of food and drink. You can book here:

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