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ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS  March 2010

ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS March 2010

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Subject:

CFP: AAA Beyond the Circularity of Sexual Diversity

From:

"Spronk, Rachel" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Spronk, Rachel

Date:

Wed, 3 Mar 2010 14:21:58 +0100

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Please circulate widely - with apologies for cross-posting:


Call For Papers For American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
New Orleans, November 17th- 21st 2010

Beyond The Circularity Of Sexual Diversity

Organizers: Lorraine Nencel (VU University Amsterdam) & Rachel Spronk (University of Amsterdam)


In the past decades, the study of sexuality, whether that be transgender, same-sex relations, sex work, sex tourism, or heterosexuality, can be characterized as the study of diversity. Frequently, studies on sexuality conclude that minority groups such as transgender persons, concepts such as masculinity or transnational relationships characterizing sex tourism can no longer be conceptualized as singular, but must be understood in their plurality; heterogeneity is dominant. Yet, this celebration of diversity has become predictable. Research on sexuality moves circularly, starting from the assumption that heterogeneity exists, followed by the deconstruction of hegemony, and ending with the ethnographic explication of difference.  Researching sexuality from this point of departure is grounded in the epistemological position of the deconstructionist paradigm, in which the subject is studied in relation to normative structures and the effect is analyzed in terms of antagonism, subordination or ambiguity. The subject is reacting against hegemony, appropriating it or both. While there is no denying the enormous contribution these studies have made in the anthropology of sexualities, and in queer studies and feminist anthropology in particular, this panel intends to go beyond the study of diversity to contribute to theories that offer different approaches to interpret sex, intimacy and identity. We call for papers which critically consider the circular mode of studying sexuality and offer alternatives. The panel will bring together researchers working in all the different fields of the anthropology of sexualities, including (but not exhaustively): same-sex relations, sex work, transgenderism, sex tourism, or heterosexuality. In this way, it aims to create a unique space for discussing across field boundaries in order to search for the theoretical commonalities employed in our research.

Presenters will draw on their own ethnographic research to address one or more or the following issues:

1. Reigniting the relationship between gender and sexuality: The symbiotic relationship between sexuality and gender was severed in the 1980's, producing many studies that proved the necessity to study sexuality independently from gender. Contemporarily, there is more and more reason to find ways to reignite this relationship. It is a virtually impossible task to study, for example, sex tourism without analyzing the way sexuality and gender interconnectively configure in individuals' subjectivities. This is not a plea to return to the pre-1980's, but rather an opportunity to present research that offers surprising insights into how individuals' sexual experiences are created within this relationship.

2. Sexuality, embodiment and sensation: In the study of sexuality in anthropology, the erotic and sensorial experiences are often neglected, in favor of studying gender and identity. This is significant, given that sex is mainly experienced through the body. Nevertheless, in recent years, embodiment has become an important analytical tool for looking at sexuality, and there are roughly two perspectives: the semiotic/textual standpoint of the body as representation and the phenomenological standpoint of the body as being-in-the-world. The first perspective is dominant in the study of sexuality as it provides a good starting point for the critical study of power relations. We are concerned here with the second. This logic of embodiment directs us to understanding how people exist through their acts, affects, and emotions of sex, and to grasp the sensorial experience of sex as constitutive to we are.  How can the study of pleasure and eroticism contribute to theories of sexuality? Can the notion of embodied experience of sexuality throw new light onto the relation between gender and identity?  

3. Beyond dichotomies, ambivalences and intentionality: Much work concerning sexuality and subjectivity struggles to understand the motives of individuals' agency to uphold or accommodate hegemonic discourses. These have shown how complicated and ambivalent complying is, including actions ranging from passive acceptance to tacit resistance. These types of actions are often theoretically juxtaposed, creating dichotomous notions of sexual agency. In addition, their ambivalent nature contains a high degree of intentionality and reflexivity. This type of theoretical circularity, while tempting to employ, predefines the way agency is interpreted, creating complex but nevertheless standardized versions of sexuality and subjectivity. We are looking for papers that resituate agency within processes of becoming rather than being (dominated), whereby new ways to analyze subjectivity and its relation to normative structures are a logical consequence.

To submit a paper for consideration, please send a 250- word abstract to Lorraine Nencel at [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> > and Rachel Spronk at [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> >  by 15 March. Please don't hesitate to contact us with questions.


 
Rachel Spronk, PhD. * Department of Anthropology and Sociology  / Amsterdam School for Social Science Research * University of Amsterdam * Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185 * 1012 DK Amsterdam * The Netherlands * http://home.medewerker.uva.nl/r.spronk/ <https://webmail.uva.nl/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://home.medewerker.uva.nl/r.spronk/>  * http://www.etnofoor.nl/ <http://www.etnofoor.nl/>  

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