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Gender, Intimacies and Sexuality

How do people practice, experience and embody citizenship and governance in their intimate lives and relationships? How do gender and sexuality become known to us individually and recognised by others, in different social and geo-temporal contexts? How are the most supposedly personal aspects of our lives, such as intimacy and sex, governed through public laws and social policies as well as through internalised societal norms? To what extent do shifts in the local, national and global landscape shape how, where and when we relate to one another?

Gender, Intimacies and Sexuality (GENIES) is an interdisciplinary group of researchers whose interests probe how public and private spheres intersect and separate. In so doing we bring together the macro and micro dimensions of citizenship and governance, illustrating how the personal is profoundly political, at every level.

The experience and governance of gender, intimacy and sexuality is closely intertwined with a range of social divisions, such as class, age, generation capacities and abilities, which all play a part in normative ideas of identities and relationships. At the heart of contemporary citizenship and governance, then, lies a range of expectations, rights, responsibilities and prohibitions that directly impinge on bodies and relationships, such as reproductive rights, universal health care and same-sex marriage. Embedded in regulation and legislation are norms about the acceptability and form of sexual and gender identities, intimacy and personal relationships, generational divisions, health and ill-health, legitimate and risky lifestyles. Deeply racialized markers of ‘civilization’ and ‘otherness’ are associated with certain bodily appearances as well as gender norms; here, gender, sexuality and power intersect.

Sexualised identities and understandings of consent are also enmeshed in relations of power. Sexual regulation and social mores render certain forms of sex and intimacy legitimate, outside ‘the norm’ or illegal. Power relations are adversely enacted through sexual violence, sexual harassment, human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Biomedical and governmental processes interact to concretise norms around sexual identities and sexual citizenship. The most intimate of moments are rendered risky or dangerous through leaky social networks whilst the same communication channels open up possibilities to connect, mobilise and share information in ways that transform ideas of community, belonging and relationality.

Interdisciplinary research in GENIES brings together empirical investigation, methodological innovation and theorizing on intimate and sexual citizenship. Through critical engagement, advocacy and activism, this research addresses, responds to and shapes current debates and new potentialities

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