Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society

Beyond Sex

Focussing on and engaging with with if, how and where sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) & social justice intersect with biomedicine, health and wellbeing by paying attention to bodies, illness, technologies and mobilities.

Introduction

beyond sex

Beyond Sex is a new theme for the Centre that has developed through interdisciplinary dialogue and collaborations between centre members. We focus on and engage with if, how and where sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) & social justice intersect with biomedicine, health and wellbeing by paying attention to bodies, illness, technologies and mobilities. In particular, we ask how the concept of sex mediates the relationship between bodies, health, technologies and how moving beyond (not away from sex) changes the lens with which we approach these configurations.

We engage directly with sexual and reproductive health that includes but also moves beyond ‘reproduction’ as the primary focus; while surrogacy, fertility and maternal health are important, we are also keen to consider how non-reproductive experiences (menopause, sterility, endometriosis, sexual rights, hormone therapy, gender, etc) shape our questions around biotechnologies & biomedical practices within SRHR.

People 

Co-leads

Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra

Ingrid Young 

Researchers

Nicola Boydell

Lisa Raeder

Chase Ledin

Andrea Ford 

Sonja Erikanien 

Cath Montgomery

Sarah Chan

Donna McCormack (visiting researcher)

Chisomo Kalinga (visiting researcher)

 

Research

Digital Intimacies: how gay and bisexual men use smartphones to negotiate their cultures of intimacy

Theme co-lead Ingrid Young is currently working on an Economic and Social Research Council (ERSC) funded project looking into digitally mediated intimacy amongst gay and bisexual men. 

Nicola Boydell’s Postdoctoral Fellowship project

Funded by The Healthcare Improvement Studies (THIS) Institute, Nicola is the primary investigator of a 3.5 year collaborative project focusing on the application of participatory approaches in service improvement within sexual and reproductive health services for young people 

The project is informed by participatory approaches to healthcare improvement research, and is exploring how sexual and reproductive healthcare design and improvement is currently practiced. The project is being developed in collaboration with young people (aged 13-18) and service providers, and will work towards the co-design of practical resources that can be used to support the involvement of other young people in work to improve sexual and reproductive health services.

You can learn more here.

Hormone Hub 

Within the research theme, there is a growing interest in the social dimensions of hormones. This development is being led by Andrea Ford, Sonja Erikanien, and Lisa Raeder. 

Andrea is currently investigating how people experiencing endometriosis and people involved in its treatment understand the disorder and the challenges surrounding it, including possible environmental factors that may make it worse. Meanwhile, Sonja has conducted research into topics including barriers to trans and non-binary inclusion within sport. Finally, Lisa’s PhD thesis focuses on how hormonal contraception is perceived by users and midwives in the context of a Swedish sexual health clinic.  

‘Terf Wars’ edited collection

Alongside co-editors Ruth Pearce and Ben Vincent, Sonja Erikanien has written and edited a collection of essays about the emergence of Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism (TERFism) - both as a phenomenon and a label given to others. 

The emergence of trans-exclusionary movements raises many questions for feminism and transgender studies. Challenging the framing of 'transgender activists versus feminists', ‘TERF Wars engages’ with both historical and contemporary hostility within and across trans/feminist movements. It examines the politics of trans, feminist, and trans-exclusionary movements, and imagines a future of collaboration, rather than conflict.

It delivers a range of essays on topics including sex, gender ideology, education, community mobilisation, autogynephilia, 'rapid-onset' gender dysphoria, detransition, migration, sex work, and public toilets. The essays examine questions of solidarity and difference from European, African, North and South American perspectives, emphasising the intertwined, intersectional politics of gender, sexuality, disability, and race that shape our lives. Together they rigorously unpack topics that have been subject to popular misinformation and moral panic, to inform lines of feminist inquiry that are emancipatory for all.

 

Public engagement

Decolonising Sex reading group 

 

Decolonisation has gained a lot of traction in the last few years. We have sought to create a space for reading, reflection and dialogue in order to explore what decolonising means in relation to gender, sex and health, and what its implications might be for our work. We have been running regular reading group sessions that allow us not only to get to know contemporary decolonial writers, but also to revisit earlier work on which many contemporary writers build. 

We have also sought to explore these ideas through reading fiction, to complement and expand the theoretical and empirical work in each session. 

Selected Reading Group Sessions
What is decolonisation? 
Franz Fanon,  A Dying Colonialism
book cover
Eve Tuck & K Wayne Yang, Decolonization is not a metaphor
book cover
Maria Lugones, Toward a Decolonial Feminism
Maria Lugones, Toward a Decolonial Feminism

 

Black feminist writings
Angela Davis, Women, Race & Class
Angela Davis
Saidya Hartman, Wayward Lives, beautiful experiments: intimate histories of riotous black girls, troublesome women, and queer radicals
Saidya Hartman: Wayward Lives, beautiful experiments: intimate histories of riotous black girls, troublesome women, and queer ra
Octavia Butler, The evening and the morning and the night 
Octavia Butler: The evening and the morning and the night 
Octavia Butler, Bloodchild
Octavia Butler: Bloodchild

 

Postcolonial feminists
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, ‘Under Western Eyes’ Revisited: Feminist Solidarity through Anticapitalist Struggles’
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, ‘Under Western Eyes’ Revisited: Feminist Solidarity through Anticapitalist Struggles’
Gayatri Chakrovaorty Spivak, Can the Subaltern Speak?
Gayatri Chakrovaorty Spivak, Can the Subaltern Speak?
Ismat Chughtai, Lihaaf (The Quilt)
Ismat Chughtai, Lihaaf (The Quilt)
Mahasweta Devi, Draupadi
Mahasweta Devi, Draupadi
Feminism & Islam
Nawal el Sadawi, The Death of His Excellency, the Ex-Minister
Nawal el Sadawi, The Death of His Excellency, the Ex-Minister
Saba Mahmood, The Subject of Freedom, Politics of Piety
Saba Mahmood, The Subject of Freedom, Politics of Piety
Lil Abu-Lughod, Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? 
Lil Abu-Lughod, Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? 

Collaborative interdisciplinary dialogue with dance company 

We are excited to be participating in this year’s Being Human Festival. Building on discussions from our Decolonising Sex Reading group, and in collaboration with Agnyā Movement and Theiya Arts, ‘The Story I See’ will look at gender, sexuality and the issue of who is seen or not seen through a choreography piece, followed by a discussion. The event will take place online between 12 – 20 November and will be free to attend.