Democracies in flux: LGBTI+ struggles, feminist politics, and anti-gender contestations

SEXDEM, LEGS & Feminist Readings present

International conference

Democracies in flux: LGBTI+ struggles, feminist politics, and anti-gender contestations

@Campus Condorcet, Paris Region, June 29-30, 2023

The language and tools of democracy have long been an important part of feminist and queer struggles for emancipation (Rahman 2000; Young 2000). In some Western countries, women’s, and to some extent gay and lesbian, rights have been gradually integrated in the national identities giving birth to racializing femonationalist (Farris 2017) and homonationalist (Puar 2007) discourses. These new forms of “sexual democracy” (Fassin 2012) have reinforced the positive correlation between liberal democracy and sexual emancipation.The latter has been perceived as an inevitable result of the evolution of Western liberal democracy, which in turn has been viewed as the only political setting within which women’s and LGBTI+ emancipation could be achieved (Scott 2018). However, the recent intensification of anti-gender campaigns sheds new light on the complex interplay between sexuality and democracy. To oppose LGBTI+ rights, anti-gender actors have mobilized the discourses and tools of democracy, such as referendums, mass gatherings and citizens petitions and initiatives (Fassin 2016; Kahlina 2020; Krizsan and Roggeband 2021; Kuhar and Paternotte 2017).

Proposing this conference, we want to provide a space for exploring the multiple meanings that the concepts of sexuality and democracy assume in different discursive contexts, from queer and feminist ones to those of anti-gender movements or racialised homonationalisms. We start with the premise that both democracy and sexual emancipation are contested concepts continuously (re)defined in political struggles. While democracy as a term is positively loaded, it is also filled with diverse meanings and understandings. To better distinguish the multiplicity of links between sexual emancipation and democracy as historicised and localized phenomena, we would like to explore these issues in a plurality of (con)texts and in a plurality of ways –  not only through academic papers but also in participative workshops around translation or creative writing.

This call is for research papers in multiple forms and fields. To trouble democratic practices and sometimes rigid ideas of democracy, we recognize the importance of work done at the intersections of different languages, geopolitical locations, discursive and academic fields. We thus invite you to feel free to engage with policies, social movements, party politics, media or theoretical debates, but to also go beyond the institutionalized politics and to turn to, for instance, feminist and queer fiction, cinema, art, translation.

We invite papers addressing but not restricted to following topics:

  • Activism and social movements focused on sexual politics
  • Democracy and anti-LGBTI+/anti-gender mobilization
  • Languages of democracy (legitimate/illegitimate languages, fields of discourse), translation and democracy
  • Exploring and unsettling the links between sexuality, democracy, and nationalism in both heteronationalist and homonationalist/femonationalist projects
  • Use of democratic tools and institutions in the struggles related to sexuality (parliamentary debates, referendums, citizens’ initiatives, and petitions)
  • Feminist/sexual politics developed in art(ivism), fiction, film, etc.
  • LGBTI+ issues, migration and asylum seeking
  • Queering democracy
  • Ecofeminist sexual politics

Co-organised by:

SEXDEM (Sexuality and democracy: Exploring the links and re-thinking the concepts for feminist politics) hosted at University of Helsinki (

LEGS (Laboratoire d’Études de genre et de sexualité), Université Paris 8, Université Paris 10, C.N.R.S. (

Feminist Readings/Lectures féministes (

For paper presentations, please send us a title, an abstract (250 words max.) and a short bio. Panel proposals should include a max 250-word description of the panel, max 250-word abstracts of each individual paper (max 4 papers per panel) and a short bio of all the participants. Proposals for creative workshops or any other kind of format should include a short description of the activities with bio(s) of workshop organizer(s). Please send your applications to

Application deadline: March 24, 2023. Applicants will be notified by April 1, 2023.

The conference language will be English. Some of the workshops will be bilingual (in French and English).

Presenters will not be required to pay a registration fee to participate in the conference.