Regulation and its Discontents The Sex and the State Project

Sunday, September 20, 2015 - 4:00am to Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - 10:30am

Regulation and its Discontents
The Sex and the State Project

Sunday 20th September – Tuesday 22nd September 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations:
The social organization of sexuality reflects cultural, economic, educational, legal, and religious ideologies and practices. These commitments are especially evident in the ways in which the state and its agents regulate sexuality: who are “good” sexual citizens and who are the outlaws? How does the state respond and deter sexual crimes and sexual violence? How do economic, educational, legal, and religious practices and movements reinforce and/or resist state-sanctioned sexual hierarchies? How do regulatory practices reflect politics of inclusion/exclusion?

These sorts of questions lie at the centre of this project, which explores the issue of sexual citizenship and its terms of belonging and exclusion sexuality in a global context and across a range of critical, contextual and cultural perspectives. We wish to critically engage with the ways in which sexual citizenship, or “erotic civility”, and sex crime, or “erotic incivility”, have been articulated and regulated, encouraged and discouraged, in a manner that moves beyond simple disciplinary attentions to policy, social norms and values. The terrain of sex Law, its prohibitions and its sanctions, will be examined with a particular focus on the dual function of the Law, its normative and its executive functions, which define the parameters of good erotic citizenship while policing the “erotically uncivil”.

 We also wish to make central the issue of Ethics and examine its role in guiding prohibitions, permissions and regulations of different sexual conduct and sexualities, to flesh out the complex ways states and social institutions regulate sexual conduct in contemporary societies. Specifically we aim to explore the ways in which the Law and other forms of regulation have been used to police and repress desire and pleasure, and the ways in which such prohibitions and regulations have been changed, subverted, challenged or transgressed, at the institutional and individual level.

Proposals, papers, presentations, workshops and pre-formed panels are invited on issues related to any of the following themes:

1) Sexual Regulation in the Law, in National and International Contexts:
– In what ways has the discourse on sexual deviance taken on an international scope?
– How do we compare states’ responses to non-normative sex, which in some cases entail punishments as extreme as the death penalty, and in others much lighter forms of sanction?
– Debates about human trafficking in national and international contexts
– How should we understand the gendered, racial, and class aspects of sexuality and their relationship with the state and Law?
– Laws against rape, sexual coercion and violence
– Sex laws and diversity in sexual identity and conduct
– Sex laws and comparative research on sex and sexuality in different societies
– The relationship between sex law and notions of good or ethical sexuality
– Sex laws and sexual pathology and prejudice in contemporary societies
– Sex law and the lessons of historical legal prohibitions or regulations of sex and sexuality

2) Sex Law and its Institutional and Cultural Contexts:
– Sex Law and policing sex and sexualities
– Sex Law and the judicial process
– Sex Law and  the criminal justice systems and corrections
– How does ideology shape the forces of the State that help produce sexual oppression?
– Is changing ideology always necessary for sexual liberation?
– The economics of sexuality and businesses that thrive on sex, beyond the sex trade.
– How does the invisibility of ideology actively hamper activism for sexual liberation?
– In the wake of “Je Suis Charlie Hebdo”, how has the concept of “free speech” been used in discourses on sexuality? Which groups have used these articulations and for whose benefits? What are their effects?

3) Ethics and the Principles of Sexual Conduct:
– What are the principles and standards of sexual ethics?
– What sex and sexualities should be prohibited, regulated or permitted?
– What forms of sexual orientations, behaviours and relationships are ethical or unethical?
– How should ethics relate to sex law and what other ideas of principles should inform sex law apart from ethics?
– Can we have ethically unsound sex that is legally permissible?
– What are the problems of talking ethically about desire and pleasure?
– The issue of “choice”: how free are we to choose?

4) Sex Law and Regulating Desire:
– Sex law and Sex Work – pornography and prostitution
– Sex Law and Sex Acts – permissible and impermissible sex
– Desires, pleasures and the conceptual bases for ethical or legal forms of prohibition or regulation
– Regulation through knowledge – sex education and institutional sexual regulation
– Regulation of particular sexual agents – disability, mental illness and other regulatory discourses
– Regulation and culture – representing good and bad sex

5) Sex Crime and Its Agents:
– Understanding and treating the perpetrators of sex crime
– How is the State connected to the “legal rehabilitation” of sexual deviants? – – What institutions support this?
– Support and services for the victims of sex crime
– Sex crime and the impact on survivors
– Sex crime and its impact upon police and support agencies
– Justice and obligation – the legal system and its impact on sex crime perpetrators and victims

We particularly welcome creative responses to the subject, such as poetry/prose, short film screenings/original drama, installations, and alternative presentation styles that engage the audience and foster debate.

What to Send:
300 word proposal should be submitted by Friday 1st May 2015. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 10th July 2015. 300 word abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats, following this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: SS4 Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:
Serena Petrella:
Rob Fisher:

The conference is part of the Gender and Sexuality  programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All papers accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook.  Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.


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