Sexual Citizens Beyond Liberalism

Sexual citizenship research
Subjectivity, sexuality and citizenship within the contemporary sexual democratic turn

The research explores the contemporary relationship between citizenship, sexuality and subjectivity in order to shed light on the regulatory dimension and the exclusionary limits of the figure of the ‘sexual citizen’ shaped by current European democratic ideals.

Gender and sexuality have become essential to the definitions of secularism, modernity, democratic values and even the opposition between western national identities and their ‘others’. In this context, this research explores the orientalist and colonialist uses of these sexual politics that according to Eric Fassin constitutes a new order of ‘sexual democracy’. But going one step further, the research also aims to show how these orientalist and colonialist uses have been facilitated, in part, by the liberal form that individualizes rights and reduces difference to logics of multiculturalism, pluralism and diversity.

The notion of gender and sexual rights has been naturalized under the liberal logics, but by what process has the language of rights cut across the constitution of gender and sexual identities and crystallized their constitution as political subjects? What other kinds of political agency were and are available to sexual claims, and what new versions of citizenship might they enact?

To consider these issues, the research takes as a point of departure the cases of Spain and Argentina. Having been the site of orientalist figurations, Spain has now curiously come to be positioned as the ‘vanguard’ in matters of sexual politics as a result of its widely recognized progressive legislation. In the context of Latin America, post-dictatorial Argentina has become a landmark example for liberalized sexual legislation as well. Therefore, the question concerning the conditions that gave way to the sexual modernization of these two nations opens the path to consider the scope of colonialist and orientalist hypothesis, as well as to think about the tensions and contradictions between the de/orientalizing and de/colonizing processes. The genealogical approach, concerned with how these particular constellations have been constituted, will allow us to approach critically the prevalent conception of freedom, reduced to versions of autonomy and individual rights that support regulatory power and expand zones of subjection and effacement.

Thus, the research aims to contribute to the critique of constitutive liberal ontologies of the individual that produce current restrictive notions of citizenship and the western conception of the political that sustains them.

Sexual citizenship research
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Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism is funded by an European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (Institutions, values, beliefs and behaviour ERC-AG-SH2).

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Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)ERC: European Research CouncilThe Open University