Sexual Revolutions – Sexual Politics

22- 23 February 2018
University of Ghent, Belgium

Download the Workshop Program with Abstracts as a PDF file

2018 sees the 50th anniversary of the apex of the movements of dissent, radical change and revolution in the 1960’s. Across the globe, workers, students and freedom movements challenged existing orthodoxies and regimes of prejudice, discrimination, inequality and oppression. This extended for demands for greater sexual freedoms, rights and recognition, and opposition to criminalisations, pathologies, subjugations and violence. For many in the West, the emergence of sexual movements as part of the protests of the late 1960’s had a direct bearing on subsequent legal, cultural and political change, and put sexual equality, rights and justice on the political map. Even with the perceived resurgence of conservative forces and neo-liberal capitalism, which have been seen as contesting ‘progressive’ movements and ideas, issues of sexual freedom and justice have become far more evident and subject to debate, contestation and political and policy change. The character of that change can and should be critically assessed, and one element of that critical assessment should be the role of revolution and radical change, in contrast to the reformist and incremental change that has characterised much of sexual change over the last fifty years.

Revolution is itself a contested term. It is not always clear where evolution, or reform, ends and revolution begins. Whilst the traditional representation of revolution is a violent uprising, revolution takes different forms: political but also social, aesthetic and cultural transformations. There are also those continuities that seem to resist forms of transformation – particularly the persistence of globalisation, capitalism and neo-liberalism.

This anniversary allows the space to a conference to assess the relationship between sexual politics and social and political revolutions.  We are seeking contributions that explore this relationship in any historical contexts and conjunctures. Contributions might focus on:

  • The 1960’s, sexual change for LGBTQI identities and cultures, and their consequences
  • Sex, sexuality and revolution in Global Contexts
  • Aesthetic revolutions and their representational politics of sexuality
  • The cultural politics of sexuality
  • Sexual revolutions and discourses of reform and revolution
  • The sexual politics of revolutionary movements
  • Queer revolutions – philosophy, theory and politics
  • Bolshevik, Maoist and Cuban Revolutions and sexual change
  • The role of social revolutions in catalysing sexual change
  • Contrasting Sexuality in Capitalist and Communist Regimes
  • Sexual revolutions: essentialist, constructionist and critical theories of sexuality and sexual change
  • Sexuality and nationalisms
  • The erotics of conflict
  • Sex, gender and violent conflict

The list of possible themes is by no means exhaustive. We invite proposals for both papers and panels that deal with the intersections of sex, sexuality and revolution. Expressions of interest should be presented in abstracts for papers (250 words) or panels of up to three speakers (please submit a 300 overview and a set of abstracts) should reach us by Friday 15 December 2017 at the latest, as should expressions of interest from non-paper giving participants. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by Wednesday 20th December 2017. Those who require earlier acceptances in order to acquire funds can specify this and we will enact a rolling acceptance process for those people as their proposals are submitted.  Please send abstracts to

The fee for the two-day workshop is 120 Euros (100 Euros for Postgraduates), and includes conference packs, refreshments and lunch for both days.

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