The Future of Social Justice: Kinship and European Legalities

The Future(s) of Social Justice: Kinship and European Legalities will explore the different forms social justice can take as families interact with the state.

The speakers will show how notions of kinship, sexuality, care, but also capitalism and nationalism gets renegotiated in the daily experiences and battles for legitimation of queer, marginalised families.

Antu Sorainen from University of Helsinki, will present ‘Queering Wills – Inheritance Arrangements in Sexually Marginalised Groups’ and Joanna Mizielinska from the Polish Academy of Sciences will present: Living in Uncertainty: Polish Queer Families and Their (Non)ordinary Strategies to Gain Recognition


This is a free seminar, though registration is required via Eventbrite.

Speaker Bios & Papers

Antu Sorainen, University of Helsinki, Queering Wills – Inheritance Arrangements in Sexually Marginalised Groups

Antu Sorainen (PhD, Docent) is an Assistant Professor in Gender Studies at the University of Helsinki. She studied Cultural Anthropology, Law, Gender Studies and Queer Legal History. She wrote a book on lesbian trials in rural 1950s Finland, and co-authored an anthology on the conceptual history of Sittlichkeit. She held Academy of Finland Fellowship with the research project “Queering Wills and Inheritance Practices in Sexually Marginalised Groups” (2014–2019), and is the director of the Academy research project “CoreKin – Contrasting and Re-Imagining Margins of Kinship” (2016–2020). Currently, she holds a 3–year grant for studying protolesbians and the nationalist sentiment in the 1920s–30s, and is writing a book on Queering Inheritance (Palgrave, 2020). 

Queering Wills and Inheritance Arrangements in Sexually Marginalised Groups

n this paper, I will discuss the concept and institution of inheritance and the contingent reference field of ‘queer inheritance’. I will briefly look at the significance of inheritance for social justice at the era of rapidly changing legal landscape around LGBTQI+ issues in Europe and beyond, the widening economic gaps in society in finance capitalism, political populism, ’homonationalism’ and neo-conservative politics/polities that are pushing sexuality off-stage and returning care-giving, solidarity and other everyday support from the state and queer communities to a more privatised sphere, to families, in (same-sex) marriages and for women (in general, daughters, and in particular, lesbian parents in Rainbow families). I will also explain the impact of different legal cultures and cultural imaginaries around wills in different European countries (i.e. legal share vs. testamentary freedom) on queer inheritance arrangements. Further, I ask what kinship has to do with succession law, and what is meant by the concept of ’inheritance family’ in different national contexts. As a conclusion, I will pose a question about whether will-writing and inheritance institution are ‘heteronormative’ (theoretically drawing on Halberstam’s, Strathern’s and Monk’s thought), and whether these only benefit and belong to the bourgeoisie and the super-wealthy; what implications the global finance capitalism has for queer communities, and whether or why we need to go beyond these implications in the contemporary legal and political era of – the assumedly – post-queer life in the “liberal West”.

Joanna Mizielinska, Polish Academy of Sciences, Living in Uncertainty: Polish Queer Families and Their (Non)ordinary Strategies to Gain Recognition

Joanna MizieliƄska holds DSs (habilitation) in Sociology, University of Warsaw and a Ph.D. in Women’s Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of Polish Academy of Sciences. She currently works as an Associate Professor at the Institute of Psychology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Her current interests concentrate on queer theory and sociology of gender, sexuality, and families. Her past research centered on the politics of translation of Anglo-American queer theoretical approaches/concepts into other geo-political contexts and the question of exclusion. Her current research focuses on queer kinship and queer families. Recently she was a Principal Investigator of the project “Families of Choice in Poland” (2013-2016) which was the first multi-method project on nonheterosexual families in Poland (for more information visit Currently she is a CoInvestigator in the project “Doing Right(s): Innovative tools for professionals working with LGBT families” (2017-2020) [dir. By prof. Federica de Cordova, University of Verona] and “Queer(y)ing Kinship in the Baltic Region” [dir. by prof. U. Dahl, Södertörn University, Stockholm]. She is the author of Different or Ordinary? Families of Choice in Poland (2017), Sex/Body/Sexuality (2007) and (De)Constructions of Femininity (2004) and co-author of In different voices. Families of Choice in Poland (2017), Families of choice in Poland. Family life of nonheterosexual persons (2015), Cooperation or conflict? Women, State, and EU (2008). She is co-editor of De-Centring Western Sexualities: Central and Eastern European Perspective (Ashgate, 2011; Routledge 2016). She has published widely on queer theory, queer kinship, and families in peer-reviewed journals in Poland and abroad. Her most recent writing focuses on critical analysis of discourses on families of choice in Poland (Journal of Homosexuality, 2017), queer reproduction (European Journal of Women’s Studies, 2019/2020; Journal of Homosexuality 2019) and doing research on queer kinship beyond Western/Anglo-American paradigms (Sexualities, 2017). 

Living in Uncertainty: Polish Queer Families and Their (Non)ordinary Strategies to Gain Recognition

Abstract Poland is currently the biggest country in the EU with the least progressive and inclusive legislation concerning queer citizens. Neither does it offer same-sex marriage and/or registered partnership nor any recognition of queer parenthood. With its very conservative, heteronormative, cisgender and monopaternal vision of family and traditional understandings of kinship, it makes the life of queer families particularly hard and precarious. In my presentation I will draw on selected results of different parts of my recently accomplished project “Families of Choice in Poland” ( which sheds light on the actual life, needs, challenges and self-descriptions of queer families in Poland. The following data sources will be brought together and investigated more closely: 1. Chosen results of quantitative study concerning the family life of 3385 LGBT persons living in non-heterosexual families Poland. 2. The most significant legal cases about LGBT families in the last decade (2003-2014), e.g. Polish cases in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (i.e. Piotr Kozak’s case) and state court. 3. Chosen results of qualitative parts of research (53 biographical interviews, an ethnographic study in 21 families, and 22 focus group interviews) My main aim is to show that despite the legal non-recognition and the conservative and homophobic mainstream discourse which (re)presents and (re)produces the traditional vision of the family at the heart of a society queer families are not solely victims of the marginalization and lack of inclusive legislation. They fight back for recognition of their relationships in daily life and develop their own (non)ordinary strategies to cope with their discrimination, invisibility, and silencing. During the presentation, I will describe those strategies and propose to read them as wilful, subversive and emancipatory legitimization of ‘queer kinship’.