Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies
School of Sociology and Social Policy
Social Sciences Building
Leeds, LS2 9JT

Tel: +44 (0) 113 343 3770
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Professor Davina Cooper CIGS Annual Lecture ‘Bringing back the bodies of the equality state’

Date: 21 March 2012, Reception 16.30. Lecture at 17.00
Location: Yorkshire Bank Lecture Theatre – Leeds University Business School

Gender Studies Annual Lecture

Title: Bringing back the bodies of the equality state, Professor Davina Cooper, Professor of Law and Political Theory at the University of Kent

Abstract: “Feminist work on bodies has tended to avoid the question of the embodied state. Yet, others continue to debate the body politic’s salience for understanding state-community relations and for understanding political sovereignty. In this lecture, I suggest the state’s relationship to bodies, particularly its own, is politically important since it affects how states are imagined, engaged with, and, ultimately, what they do. Focusing on the liberal state at one of its seemingly progressive contemporary junctures, this lecture explores the body work of national equality governance, drawing on a snap-shot moment of Britain in 2009-2010. Alongside the governmental body image institutional texts project, in which a set of discrete networked public bodies nestle in a wider economic and legal domain, I explore a more physical engagement with the state’s body, through the active citizenship of its public servants. Exploring active citizenship when it takes both overt and covert form, when it promotes dissent, and when it promotes a forceful, committed over-compliance, I consider what happens to the corporeal relationship between the state and its laboring public servants. Do state actors work through the body of the state or does the visibility accorded to transgressive public servants thwart state attempts to appropriate their labour and their bodies? Through these questions, and drawing on feminist body scholarship, the lecture considers the scope of active citizenship to advance a differently embodied state.”

Davina Cooper is a Professor of Law & Political Theory at the University of Kent (UK). Between 2004 and 2009, she was Director of the AHRC Research Centre for Law, Gender & Sexuality, and in the late 1980s was a local politician on the controversial London council, Haringey (on which this lecture also draws).

Her publications include: Challenging Diversity: Rethinking Equality and the Value of Difference (2004); Governing out of Order: Space, Law & the Politics of Belonging (1998); Power in Struggle: Feminism, Sexuality and the State (1995); and Sexing the City: Lesbian and Gay Politics within the Activist State (1994). She is currently completing a book on the transformative conceptual practices of everyday utopias.

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