Bodily Assemblages and Queer Sexualities

This research field will focus on the entanglement of corpomaterialities, affectivity and intersectional power differentials, as well as explore strategies of resistance, in particular, the role of bodies, sexualities, vulnerabilities, pleasure, pain and passions in processes of decolonization and disidentification. It is based on the assumption that intersecting processes of resistance to and decolonialization of hegemonic power relations cannot unfold without being nourished by strong bodily and affective sources. It is taken as a point of departure that human and non-human bodies and environments are disciplined by capitalism, colonialism, technoscience, heteronormativity and other hegemonic power regimes to function in complicity and compliance with intersecting institutionalized norms (gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, dis/ability, geopolitical position, regimes of health/illness, etc). But it is also assumed that norms and institutions do not only produce complicity and docility, but that they at the same time also co-produce varying kinds of unease, pain, discomfort, vulnerability etc, which sometimes lead to political immobilization, but in other instances generate resistance and change. It is the aim of the research field to explore such movements of change and their somatechnics – to study the hegemonic technologies of power which are at play, as well as bodily resistances across borders of different intersecting power differentials.

  • This field covers the following established research strands:

    Critical disability studies

    Strand chair: Margrit Shildrick

    In recent years Critical Disability Studies has emerged as one of the most exciting areas of exploration in the continuing development of theories of embodiment, raising urgent issues of subjectivity, sexualities, power, and sexual difference to name just a few. After years of neglect, even disavowal, the question of anomalous embodiment and sexuality is at the heart of emergent scholarship forcing a reconsideration of the operative paradigms well beyond the arena of disability. Just as feminism, postcolonial studies and queer theory have all in turn offered a radical challenge to the existing conventions, so Critical Disability Studies is now the locus to watch for anyone concerned with interdisciplinary cutting edge theory. Taking a broadly postmodernist perspective, the research strand would draw on philosophy, literature, history, the social sciences, feminist theory and much more to pull together new ways of thinking about the body in all its forms, and to provide a rich and varied insight into the state of critical disability scholarship.

  • Sexual ethnography – transforming methodologies

    Strand chair: Malena Gustavson

    Sexual ethnography continues to form methodological challenges to research practices, ethics and analysis with and through the testimonies of lived experiences. Exploring sexuality as ethnography engages a plethora of assemblages of narratives and practices in social relations and political institutions. Being a highly debated and also delicate matter sexual ethnography also generates incitement to continually rethink how to perform and communicate in the field. Feminist ethnographers’ critical engagement of disentangling the link between experience and representation has expanded and transformed theoretical and methodological endeavours in fieldwork as a site for knowledge production. There are elaborated approaches and interventions to participate in the field. Exploratory research practices aligned with feminist critique of othering also emphasizes ethical reflexivity, the researcher’s point of origin, attitudes and techniques of knowing. Framing this strand within the orbit of feminist queer and transnational intersections the methodological discussion will continue and invites to innovative, experimental and critical engagement in sexual ethnography. The strand will engage in questions such as: What are the challenges for a sexual ethnography ethically and analytically? How could we expand the dialogue between researcher and research subjects in the ethnographic processes?

    Ongoing projects: Sexual feelings (Malena Gustavson)

    Relevant publications

  • Feminist Technoscience Studies: Re-inventing Technologies, Biologies and Medicine

    Strand chairs: Cecilia Åsberg, Ulf Mellström, Margrit Shildrick & Nina Lykke

    This research strand continues and advances the feminist science studies tradition as it has been established and re-established by scholars such as Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, Lucy Suchman, Margrit Shildrick, Stacy Alaimo, Myra Hird, Nina Lykke, Mette Bryld and Lynda Birke at the intersection of advanced cultural theory, feminist materialisms and knowledge production within the natural sciences, medicine or engineering. This field has moved from critiques of science (the woman question in science) to active engagement with “the science question in feminism” (Harding 1986), and taken a quantum leap over the three decennia after Donna Haraway’s famous cyborg manifesto. In this strand we put focus on different kinds of knowledge production, historical and material conditions of existence and bodily ethics in the medical, technical and natural sciences. Key here are transdisciplinary understandings that bridge the modern divide between nature and culture, and its corollary of bifurcations into the so called soft sciences and the so called hard sciences. This strand is marked by a deep-seated feminist commitment to the ways in which gender and intersectionality are entangled with medicine, science and technology. This small, highly influential and highly transgressive field (admixing feminism and technoscience in practice) has in recent years single-handedly reinvented large parts of the feminist conceptual apparatus in gender studies, under portmanteau terms such as for instance - new materialism, agential realism, feminist materialisms, posthumanities, and somatechnics.

  • Liminal lives, bodily ethics and bio-curious feminist posthumanities

    Strand chair: Cecilia Åsberg

    What is life in the era of the life sciences – when genetic, neurological, chemical concepts and matters proliferate well beyond the confinements of the laboratory in popular culture and shape our sense of selfhood? Who, or what,gets to count as human, humanized, monstrous, or non-human, as natural in the natural sciences, as cultural, sexed orgendered, in humanities, science and in the wider scientific imaginary of today?This research strand will focus the question of gendered biologies, liminal lives and bodily ethics from the multiple interwoven perspectives emerging from the recent feminist reinvention of the messy relations and blurred boundaries of sex/gender, nature/culture, science/humanities. The point of departure is materialist trends in feminist theory, which have focused on embodiment and the materialities of sexed bodies – human and non-human. Against the background of a critique of feminist theories of sexual difference in the humanities and social science that have long been embedded in constructionist paradigms, materialist feminist trends haveattracted the attention of feminist researchers from a broader spectrum of different disciplinary backgrounds, including medicine and biology. However, while theorizing on the relationship between human and non-human animals, technology and biology, sex and gender has figured sexual difference, differentiated subjectivity and embodiment as key feminist concerns, communication across the borders of the different theoretical strands and interdisciplines has been scarcer. Furthermore, it has been difficult to bridge disciplinary barriers between empirically-oriented research, typically carried out by bioscientists, and theoretically-oriented research, carried out by humanities and social sciences scholars, thus preventing a synergetic dialogue. Against the background of these gaps in previous research, the strand will aim at the development of new transdisciplinary research on bio-curious feminist forms of posthumanities, moving cultural feminist theory out of the anthropocentric comfort zone and into a more-than-human humanities. While we map "the human" and its constitutive inside and outside of the the Humanities, we draw in this research strand on feminist science studies roots and recent re-routes in new materialisms, on creative approaches oftechnoscience and culturalstudies, and human-animal studies. However, we focus especially on the relationships, circulating cultural contents and synergetic exchanges between the humanities and the natural sciences, molecular biology, techno- and life sciences – as matters of urgent concern for feminist scholarship.

  • Cancer Cultures as lens to Intersectional Patienthood Studies

    Strand chair: Nina Lykke

    The strand is focusing on three interrelated dimensions. Firstly, the question of cancer as a cultural phenomenon is addressed, taking a starting point in the paradox that, while representations of cancer and cancer patienthood abound in contemporary popular culture, cancer is more seldom the theme of critical cultural studies. A small, but significant tradition for critical cultural studies of cancer, including queer, trans, feminist, and postcolonial ones does, however, exist, and has served as an inspiration for the strand. Secondly, the strand is taking issue with patienthood as an embodied sociocultural positioning and subjectivity. Patienthood (and un/health) is explored as a dimension to be included in intersectional feminist theorizations. It is understood as a dimension which intraacts closely with the issue of dis/abilities, but it is also assumed that more adequate analytical perspectives seem to emerge from a taking into account not only overlaps, but also distinctly separate dynamics and political perspectives. Thirdly, the strand builds on and further develops postconstructionist frameworks, defining (un)healthy bodies as material-semiotic actors entangled in transcorporeal, affective relations made up of networks of culture and biology.