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
Fax: +44 (0) 113 343 4415

CIGS Annual Lecture

Prof. Jasbir Puar – CIGS Annual Lecture. Affective Politics: States of Debility and Capacity

Date: 14 May 2014, 5.30pm
Location: The Great Woodhouse room, University House

Derived from her new forthcoming monograph, Affective Politics: States of Debility and Capacity, which takes up questions of disability in the context of theories of bodily assemblages and affectivity that trouble intersectional identity frames, this talk elaborates an ethos of conviviality.

Conviviality is an anti-reproductive challenge to biopolitics that seeks to dissassemble the relations between capacitated and debilitated bodies, arguing for more porous corporeal and political engagements within and across geopolitical spaces wrought through notions of the impersonal and futurity.

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Professor Robyn Wiegman: CIGS Annual Lecture – The Times We’re In

Date: 05 December 2012, 5.00pm
Location: Western Lecture Theatre – Leeds University Business School

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Annual Lecture

This is an event organised by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies in conjunction with two Leeds Humanities Research Institute (LHRI) related projects – the Between Disciplines; lecture series and the Home, Community and Belonging research theme.

Robyn Wiegman: Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Duke University, US


In 1997, when Eve Sedgwick provocatively challenged the critical hegemony of paranoid reading, the alternative she offered – reparation – was widely associated with the personal, sentimental, and anti-intellectual. Today, the situation is vastly different, as feminist and queer studies scholars have reoriented their critical labor not just toward the study of affect but toward the cultivation of what we might call, following Teresa Brenna, new “affective atmospheres” for theory. Think Cruel Optimism, Feeling Backward, Lose Your Mother, and Time Binds. Each of these works inhabits a temporal idiom – as ordinary, melancholic, haunting, or eroticizing – to contemplate the conditions of the political present. By parsing the language, sensations, and political investments of “The Times We’re In,” this talk sketches the reparative inclinations of feminist and queer theory today.

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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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Annual Lecture: Organ Transplantation, Hybridity and Narrations of Identity

Date: 17 March 2011, 6.00pm
Location: Great Woodhouse Room, University House, University of Leeds

This is the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies’ Annual Lecture.

Dr Margrit Shildrick, Reader in Gender Studies, Queen’s University, Belfast


In modernist paradigms, the embodied subject is not only independent of others and wholly human, but bears an identity that is unchanged over time. Many biomedical procedures – pacemakers, donor embryo transfer, pigs’ valves – already unsettle such views, but the insistence that biomedicine intrinsically seeks to restore an originary sense of self is hard to shift. This presentation looks specifically at heart transplantation as an exemplary process that, in potentially disturbing aspects of identity, entails the need for organ recipients to reconceptualise the question ‘Who am I?’.

The paper connects with my current research into the phenomenology of heart transplantation, where the proposition that heart recipients are likely to experience psychic disruption to their sense of self as a result of their bodily transformation is being empirically tested. Heart transplantation is always a life-saving intervention, yet the implications for recipients’ ongoing sense of themselves as unique individuals are relatively undeveloped. From a conventional perspective, results show a clear need to revamp clinic practice to enable recipients to give more open accounts of their actual bodily experiences following transplantation, and indeed to question the limits of what is seen as unproblematically therapeutic; at a more challenging level they indicate the necessity of rethinking the nature of embodied identity. Research confirms that recipients are highly invested in speculating on the identity of donors precisely because they feel that some donor characteristics will carry over, and that almost 80% display distress, either in relation to the donor, to their own identities, or both. The authorised narrative insists that the replacement of a ‘failed’ organ restores the originary self, but the problem is that the post–transplant body is not only prostheticised, but becomes irreducibly hybrid for life: the originary self is irrecoverable.

Could investigating recipients’ own narratives post-transplant give a better understanding of what it means to incorporate an organic prosthesis, or to experience the body as hybrid? Do male and female recipients experience the process differently? I suggest we need to mobilise a different approach to a range of biomedical interventions that fundamentally vary the nature of the body. Both prostheses and transplants show us a destabilisation of the socio-political, legal and ethical categorisation of bodies according to normative epistemologies that create markers such as gender, sex and race. As the body makes novel connections and participates in machinic assemblages of the organic and inorganic, it demands a reimagination of the ideologies of human identity, and a reconfiguration of bioethics.

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Annual Lecture: Professor Sara Ahmed ‘Killing Joy: Feminism and the History of Happiness’

Date: 03 March 2010, 17:30h
Location: Yorkshire Bank Lecture Theatre – Leeds University Business School

Gender Studies Annual Lecture

Title: Killing Joy: Feminism and the History of Happiness, Professor Sara Ahmed , Professor of Race and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College

Abstract: This paper offers a feminist critique of happiness. It proceeds by suspending belief that happiness is a good thing, or that happiness is what we want, as beliefs that are central to the intellectual history of happiness. The paper suggests that feminist histories might offer an alternative history of happiness. It shows how happiness is what makes some things into goods (happy objects are those that are anticipated to cause happiness), and introduces the concept of “conditional happiness,” when one person’s happiness is made conditional upon another’s, to explore
how, for some, happiness means following other people’s goods.

The paper considers feminist consciousness as a consciousness of unhappiness, of what is lost or is given up by following the paths of happiness. Such consciousness does not necessarily involve a form of self-consciousness but a worldly consciousness in which unhappiness disturbs the familiar. The paper reflects specifically on Black feminist consciousness as a consciousness of what does not get noticed when happiness provides a horizon of experience..

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CIGS Annual Lecture – Professor Judith Halberstam: Queer Feminism and the Art of Masochism

Date: 17 February 2009, 5.30pm
Location: Western Lecture Theatre – Leeds University Business School

This is the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies’ Annual Lecture.

Judith Halberstam is Professor of English and Director of The Centre for Feminist Research at USC. She teaches courses in queer studies, gender theory, art, literature and film. Judith is the author of ‘Female Masculinity’, ‘The Drag King Book’, ‘Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters’, and ‘In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives’.

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