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Sexual Politics in Diverse Communities

This one-day symposium will showcase current developments in theory, methodology and practice in the field of sexual politics, with presentations from seven scholars sharing new research.

Sexual politics in diverse communities: conversations about theory, methodology and practice

Centre for Disability Studies & Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies

Scholars in the field of sexual politics will showcase current developments in theory, methodology and practice relating to intimate/sexual citizenship, gender, intersectionality, embodiment, dis/ability, sex work and violence. While identities and experiences are diverse across groups, the scholars will identify common grounds for solidarity and collaboration.

The day will be shaped around two themes as set out below, and will begin with coffee and registration from 09:30 - 10:00. 


To view the full event schedule and to book your complimentary place, please visit the Eventbrite page.

If tickets are sold out when you try to register, please register for the waiting list by clicking the 'Join Waitlist' button at the bottom of the registration pop-out. 


Theme 1: New landscapes for sexual citizenship

Unpacking intimate citizenship: what can we learn from disabled people?

Speaker: Dr Kirsty Liddiard, Research Fellow, School of Education, the University of Sheffield

How can the concept of intimate citizenship be understood in relation to disability? Based on empirical findings, this paper presents the ways in which ableism compromises disabled people’s rights and access to intimate citizenship. I also explore new ways of thinking at the intersections of disability, sex and gender through DisHuman studies. The DisHuman invokes alternative kinds of citizenship and ways of being in the world; and ultimately, might pave new ways of imagining and advocating for disabled people’s sexual and intimate futures.

Where are support needs in sexual citizenship? Empirically-based theory development in an international perspective

Speaker: Dr Julia Bahner, Research Fellow, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds

The concept of sexual citizenship does not sufficiently acknowledge some disabled people’s needs for sexual support. Furthermore, such issues are largely invisible in disability and sexual health policies, as well as in disability rights advocacy. Drawing on findings from an international research project, this paper highlights the contextual nature of disabled people’s opportunities for being supported in their sexual expression and explorations.

Trans male practices of pregnancy and birth: reconsiderations of gendered and embodied identities

Speakers: Professor Sally Hines, Professor of Sociology & Gender Identities, and Dr Ruth Pearce, Research Fellow, School of Sociology & Social Policy, University of Leeds

This paper will draw on initial findings from the ESRC funded research project 'Trans Pregnancy: an International Exploration of Trans Practices of Reproduction' to consider the ways in which participant narratives bring challenges to existing work around gendered embodied experiences and identities.

Theme 2: Participatory methodologies and real-world impact

Methodological impact: mixing up methods to make sex work research count

Speaker: Professor Teela Sanders, Criminology, University of Leicester

This paper uses the case study of the Beyond the Gaze project on online sex work to explore the ways in which a range of methodological approaches are required in order for research questions to be answered and for the project to speak specifically to the requirements of policy and practice. Discussing the combination of using quantitative methods and participatory action research, the paper shows how direct practice changes can be made, as well as collecting data that is digestible to the media, politicians, and for public engagement.

With love from bisexual women who have experienced violence

Speaker: Sally-Anne Beverley, Doctoral Candidate, School of Sociology & Social Policy

This paper critically explores minor interventions in the traditional semi-structured interview to reposition victim/survivors within research. This involves situating victim/survivors as experts who can be sources of advice to women going through similar situations and who have insightful ideas around understanding the phenomenon they have experienced. Shifting the questions asked from a focus on participant experiences to participants reflecting on the meaning of their experiences challenges power dynamics within research and brings participants into the theoretical process. The paper focuses on a pamphlet containing advice from bisexual victim/survivors to bisexual victim/survivors, creating space for supportive dialogues between participants and the larger community. 

Expectation vs reality: a critical evaluation of the use of creative methods in researching 'non' sexualities

Speaker: Dr Karen Cuthbert, Research Fellow, School of Sociology & Social Policy, University of Leeds

Amidst excitement about the empowering and radical potential of creative and arts-based methods – particularly for researching non-normative genders and sexualities - this paper offers a note of critical caution. Reflecting on my experiences of using scrapbooks and notebook/diaries in my research on asexuality and sexual abstinence, I discuss how many of my previous expectations were tempered as these methods sometimes proved inaccessible, and much of the data proved to be no different, epistemologically speaking, than that generated in semi-structured interviews.

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