INSEP2012 – Connecting Sexual Ethics and Politics

29th-31st August, 2012, Ghent University, Belgium
Hosted by CEVI – Center for Ethics and Value Inquiry

Download the INSEP2012 Conference Programme and Abstracts

Plenary Lecture
Prof. Dr. Bob Brecher (CAPPE – University of Brighton)
Andrea Dworkin: a Reassessment

Discussion session
Sexology, Therapy and the Boundaries of the Normal

introduced by position papers of
Prof. Dr. Luk Gijs (Institute for Family and Sexuality Sciences, KULeuven)
and Dr. Andreas De Block (Institute of Philosophy, KULeuven)

Sexual ethics and politics lie at the core of how we understand and practice our sexual lives. They form the basis from which we understand and engage with diverse and different sexualities. Both, however, are currently open to question. On the one hand, sexual ethics seems to be caught up in an abstract intellectual discourse, effectively separating it from practice. Sexual politics, on the other hand, has seen progressive advances through world-wide activism by grass-roots movements, NGO’s and national and international agents, but is often lacking a more self-critical and reflective stance. INSEP wants to activate a critical dialogue between sexual ethics and politics by connecting them and exploring the ways they can contribute to each other. The sexual is political and just as sexual politics could be enriched by emancipatory ethical thinking, sexual ethics should connect with contemporary sexual activism, politics and practices aiming at the realisation of sexual equality and justice.

General Conference Theme

In this conference we would like to focus on the construction, regulation and experience of contemporary sexual norms. By this we wish to ‘trouble’ current assumptions, dispositions and claims from different regulatory regimes for sexual identities, practices and differences in national and international contexts. Put simply, are today’s ‘progressive norms’ in contemporary Western societies really progressive?

For example, are civil partnerships, equality before the law and hate-crime legislation the end to gay and lesbian politics? What is the role of law and citizenship in promoting respect for difference? And what discourses or developments beyond the law are necessary for promoting respect for sexual difference. Can we make claims for respecting diverse sexualities and at the same time have constructive dialogues with countries and cultures that do not? Is it oppressive to insist on universal principles for respecting sexual identities and difference? Where do we draw lines of legitimacy and illegitimacy? Or, on an even more fundamental level: is sexual difference as such valuable?

After a successful launch conference last year, INSEP – the International Network of Sexual Ethics and Politics – announces their Second Annual Conference, to be held at the University of Ghent, Belgium, from Wednesday 29 to Friday 31 August, 2012.

This second international conference seeks papers, presentations and panels focusing on conceptual and theoretical debates, cultural and political analysis and empirical studies from which conceptual, ethical and political conclusions are drawn.

Sub Themes

Whilst we welcome a wide and diverse range of papers, we are particularly keen to encourage submissions focussed on the general conference theme and suggest three sub themes of particular interest:

Is Sexual Equality Enough?

What is the connection between legal and political change towards greater equality and cultural experience and practices? Has the promotion of equality been progressive for all, for some, or in contradiction, for none? How do we understand and deconstruct persistent inequality? What does a political apathy against unequal and oppressive regimes say about the status of sexual equality in ‘progressive’ regimes?

Sexual Health & Well-Being

How should we rethink the notions of sexual health and well being? What does well-being add to the agenda for sexual health? Does the criminalization of HIV-transmission and pathologizing of bare backing, for example, constitute progressive health-regulation? How are medicalised sexual health programmes and risk-focused educational programmes contributing to health and well being? How does this work differently in international and different cultural contexts? What does the concept of sexual well-being demand for the sharing of knowledge about sexual practices and techniques?

Sexology, Therapy and the Boundaries of the Normal

What is the impact of the currently constituted science of sexology to understanding sexual difference and practice? To what extend is this a positive or negative contribution? How does it construct and defend notions of ‘normality’ and ‘perversion’ and what are the consequences of doing so? In whose interest is sexology practised? What key ethical and political questions should shape and mould a sexology of the future. What is the possible contribution of sexology as a western science to different cultures and traditions?

Special event: Sexology Workshop: Sexology, Therapy and the Boundaries of the Normal
introduced by position papers of Prof. Dr. Luk Gijs (Institute for Family and Sexuality Sciences, KULeuven) and Dr. Andreas De Block (Institute of Philosophy, KULeuven)