CFP INSEP2015 – Violence, Representations and Sexuality
Fifth International Conference of the
International Network for Sexual Ethics and Politics ‐ INSEP
13th ‐ 15th July, 2015, Ghent University, Belgium
Hosted by CEVI – Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry
Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2
9000 Ghent – Belgium
General Conference Theme – Violence, Representations and Sexuality
The relationship between violence and sexuality is one of the most critical areas of engagement for
sex and sexuality research and activism. There continues to be an epidemic of violence against
women and children – rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and abuse – across the globe,
manifest in different cultural customs and practices, authority structures, hetero‐patriarchal and
hetero‐normative regimes at both national (and supranational in the case of trafficking) and
everyday micro levels. This epidemic is often met with: limited regulatory responses suffused with
heterosexist assumptions; legal authorities that fail to prioritise or regard it is less important than
other criminal activity; indifference; and/or claims that the prevalent cultural milieu makes it
impossible to act. While some efforts have been made in North America, Europe and Australasia to
effect change, in many parts of the globe sexual subjection and suffering continues to be seen as a
normal state of affairs.
Equally, across the globe sexual difference and departures from heterosexuality are met by varying
degrees of violence, ranging from physical attack and murder, to prejudicial and pathological
assumptions that are present even in the social context of equality and rights discourses. To be
different is still to be ‘othered’ to varying degrees, and that ‘othering’ often takes damaging forms of
practice against those who present themselves as different.
The cultural and representational contexts are of particular importance here. It is in the
representational form that we most saliently see the cultural demarcations of legitimacy and
illegitimacy for sex and sexuality. Through representations, tensions are played out in the public
arena that are sometimes manifest only in inter‐subjective or hetero‐normative meaning making. In
societies where gay men and lesbians are formally recognised, there remains a dichotomy between
the ‘respectable’ different that operates within homonormative constraints and lives without
troubling heteronormative assumption, and the ‘queer’ whose personal practices challenge or
disrupt cultural and social norms as a feature of being themselves. Likewise, the representation of
sex in mainstream medias often reinforces particular understandings and meanings suffused with
power, presumption and prejudice. Against that, alternate forms of media can play an important
role in promote constructive understandings of the relationship between desire, pleasure and
Violence and sexuality also creates a nexus of troubling contradictions. Recently, the fetishisation of
‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, e.g., normalises a commodified and limited exploration of sexual imagination,
whilst BDSMers and others who wish to move beyond difference as an adjunct to genito‐centric and
penetrative sex remain culturally prejudiced against and subject to different and sometimes
punishing pathologies and legal regulatory regimes. Pornography and prostitution represent other
areas of contestation. Is pornography or prostitution inherently violent? Or is there room for
sufficient levels of agency and choice?
The juxtaposition of pain, violence and sex, whether in practice or in representation, whether
consenting or not, splits those radical voices who often support sexual freedom. Does violence and
sexuality represent a fault‐line for disagreement? Is that disagreement one of language and
representation or of power, degradation and its effects?
We welcome papers that explore any aspect of the relationship between violence, representation,
sexuality and sex. As always, we also welcome other papers that reflect innovative, creative and
thought‐provoking work on sexual ethics and politics in general. For this purpose we retain open
streams at the conference. Please feel free to email the conference organisers for further inquiries.
The fifth international conference of INSEP welcomes 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.
INSEP seeks to provide a critical and dynamic space for cutting edge thinking, new research and key
discussions and debates about issues of sexual ethics or politics, whether conceptual and theoretical
discourse, analytical studies or aesthetically or empirically constituted insights. INSEP sees the value
in the fullest range of approaches to the study of sexual ethics and politics, including: gendered and
feminist perspectives; distinctive lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual perspectives;
queer perspectives; and approaches from more general positions such as liberalism, Marxism and
democratic theory. The 2015 conference seeks to be an inclusive space for discussion, welcoming
dialogue and vigorous debate, but not sectarianism. We consider paper proposals and panel
proposals from any disciplinary field, and are willing to consider expositions that take less orthodox
To facilitate funding applications ‐ please note INSEP has no funds of its own ‐ we operate a 'rolling'
process of abstract review and acceptance or rejection, and can provide documentation where it is
required to facilitate funding. Our turnaround time for refereeing is 10 days.
Submission & Timeline: Submissions for papers (250 words), panels or workshops (500 word
stipulating participants) should reach us by Monday 15 June at the latest. Earlier of course, is better.
Normal acceptance/rejection notification ‐ 10 days. All delegates/paper‐givers must register by
Monday 23 June, and we encourage earlier registration when acceptances have been
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The conference fee for the full three days is 150 Euros, which includes the conference pack and
refreshments. A concessionary rate of 100 Euros is available to students and postgraduates.
INSEP publishes a journal and a book series with Barbara Budrich Publishers. We would anticipate
commissioning publications from the conference and, dependent on quality and coherence, may
publish a collection based on themes emerging from the conference. INSEP also welcomes
submissions to the journal and proposals to the Book Series.
Sexual ethics and politics lie at the heart 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, discussion of sexual ethics has previously
been confined to the auspices of 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, NGOs and national and international agents, but in the push for
progress, the space for self‐critique and reflexivity is often eradicated. 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 for the realisation of sexual equalities and justice.
For more info on INSEP & the 2015 conference please visit:
INSEP – http://www.insep.ugent.be/
Journal INSEP – http://budrich‐journals.de/index.php/insep
Reader in Sociology and Social Philosophy
Edge Hill University, UK
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Associate Professor of Ethics
Ghent University, Belgium
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