Overview of the conference theme

Posted in Conference 2012

The development of new sexualities and gender identities has become a crucial issue in the field of cultural studies in the first years of the twenty-first century. However, this creative process has its origins in the last decades of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century. The Victorian preoccupation about the female body and sexual promiscuity was focused on the regulation of deviant elements in society and the control of venereal disease; homosexuals, lesbians and prostitutes’ identities were considered out of the norm and against the moral values of the time.

The relationship between sexuality and gender identity has attracted massive/wide-ranging discussion amongst feminist theorists during the last few decades. According to the methodologies of cultural studies img4and, in particular, of post-structuralism and post-colonialism, different cultures and different texts can be read and interpreted in various ways. These strengthen the postmodernist concept of identity. They also further post-positivist interpretations of sexual relations, gender, agency, race and identity. As a consequence, an individual’s identity is recognised as culturally constructed and the result of power relations. In our contemporary societies these concepts are being questioned, together with dominant representations of gender and sexuality, and issues like human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse, sexual violence and AIDS have come to the fore. In particular, the status of prostitutes, homosexuals, lesbians, trans-gendered people, transvestites, etc., as “others” has been questioned. But has all this discussion made the connections between gender and sexual categories, on the one hand, and certain codes of behaviour, on the other, seem unnecessarily complex? To this, contemporary phenomena like globalization, trans-nationalism and migratory movements have contributed greatly, and the sexual submission of men, women and children under extreme economic and social circumstances is certainly not less than in previous generations and societies, but has mostly shifted out of "sight”.

We invite contributions that address the topic of new sexualities and gender identities and their representation in post-colonial and contemporary Anglophone literary, historical, and cultural productions from a transnational, trans-cultural and anti-essentialist perspective. We seek to include the views and concerns of people of colour, of women in the diaspora, in our evermore multiethnic and multicultural societies, and their representation in the media, films, popular culture, subcultures and the Arts.