Midterm Conference: European Sociological Association Sexuality Research Network

Making a Difference: the Hope and Promise of Sexuality Studies

24th - 25th September 2020 (CANCELADO)

CES | Alta (Coimbra, PT)

Call for Papers

Keynote Speakers: Sue Scott Miguel Vale de Almeida | Sonia Corrêa

The title for this midterm conference is inspired by Lemn Sissay’s poem Making a Difference quoted by former ESA President Sue Scott in her opening speech at the 2019 ESA conference in Manchester. The poem urges researchers at all stages of their career and members of academia at large to stand out and use their embodied knowledge to break barriers and make a difference. We draw from this powerful invitation to encourage scholars and activists alike to approach sexuality studies as a platform for change.

Gender and sexuality studies have been subject to funding cuts and obstructive state interventions leading in some instances to the closure of entire university degree programmes. Long-established oppressive and discriminatory practices and the recent advancement of right-wing populism have dire consequences for the lives of those who do not live up to ethnocentric ideals of cis and hetero normativity and normalcy. Reflecting on these challenges, the ESA Sexuality Research Network wishes to stimulate discussions on how the sociological study of sexuality has been operating as a scholarly and activist tool for change and on how it can achieve even more by looking at the broader implications of sexual politics and the politics of sexuality.

How useful is the sociological study of sexuality for challenging new and old backlashes? What methodological and epistemological challenges do sexuality studies face today? What helpful disciplinary cross-fertilisations can we further stimulate? What analytical insights can the study of sexuality contribute to, and what are its future directions? What theoretical, political, and activist interventions are necessary to nurture and sustain hope in this field? What may undermine the hope and promise of sexuality studies? What aspects of the sociological study of sexuality remain under-explored or even ignored, and how can we address marginalised or tabooed topics?

We look forward to sharing research and to discussing ways in which we can contribute to the field and the promises and hopes it holds. We would like the conference to be an opportunity to take a critical look at the politics of hope, its potentials and its limits, its usages, histories, cultural legacies, social and emotional dynamics and its discursive and material effects.

We invite scholars, activists and interested parties to address these and other related questions. Specific topics may include, but need not be limited to:

  • SOGI rights claims, human rights, social justice and solidarity
  • Challenging LGBTIQ+ discrimination and inequality
  • Sexual violence, conflict resolution and reconciliation
  • Shifting notions of consent
  • Intersections of sex, work and economic justice
  • Sexual politics, social movements and queering practices of resistance (e.g. anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, anti-colonial, anti-racist, feminist, etc.)
  • Sexual identities, communities and the politics of belonging
  • Sexual norms and normativities
  • Migration and sexuality, multiculturalism and integration
  • Utopianism/dystopianism in theories on sexuality
  • Alternative intimacies and modes of kinship
  • Care and caring in intimate and sexual relationships
  • Sexuality, emotions and affects
  • Medicalization, de-medicalization, biopolitics, and biosociality
  • Gender, sexuality and reproductive justice
  • Sexuality, bodies and embodiment

We welcome proposals for individual papers (300 words) and for panels (1000 words) consisting of 3 to 4 papers. Please also include a short biography of paper author/s.  

Please submit your abstract HERE

The deadline for submissions is 1st March 2020. Authors will be notified about the acceptance of their papers/panels by mid-April 2020.

Conference attendance is €50 for ESA members and €70 for non-ESA members. We will also offer a small number of fee-waivers for: PhD students, independent and untenured researchers, and junior tenured academics. To apply for a fee-waiver, please indicate that in your submission together with a brief explanation.

Please note that the Sexuality RN Midterm conference 2020 will be preceded by the LGBTQI+ Lives International Conference, organized by the CILIA Research Consortium, in Coimbra, on the 23rd September 2020. Presentations will draw on empirical research about intersectional lifecourse inequalities in England, Germany, Portugal and Scotland. The event is free, but registration is required. More information will be available soon at https://www.surrey.ac.uk/centre-research-ageing-gender/cilia-lgbtq-study

For any query, please email: esarn23@gmail.com

The Organising Local Committee: Ana Cristina Santos, Ana Lúcia Santos, Rita Alcaire (CES Team) and Mara Pieri (ESA RN23 Board)


Making a Difference (a poem to be read aloud)
By Lemn Sissay

We are shaking and waking and breaking indifference
We are quaking and taking and making a difference

We are working observing recording researching
Wherein we’re conferring subverting referring

We’re counting the minutes the moments the loss
Redressing the balance addressing the cost

We are citing and fighting it’s all in the writing
The spark is igniting in dark we are lightening

We are breaking the brackets the fact is the planet’s
In rackets and rackets of rackets in brackets

The systems the victims the damning the scamming
The biased predicting the beating and banning

The skills we exchange the breaking of chains
The actions sustained the makers of change

To relentless censors the damned and defenceless
Our words are the action the louder reaction

When no one is listening we hear
When heads turn away we volunteer

We work we stand tall we rise up to be counted
We climb mountains

We are shaking and waking and breaking indifference
We are quaking and taking and making a difference