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Public Events

Academic Year 2017-18

Professor Mary Beard 'In Conversation' with Professor Peter Frankopan on Women and Power: A Manifesto

Women and Power: A Manifesto © Profile BooksThe Centre for Gender Studies hosted a presentation for Women and Power: A Manifesto on Thursday 10 May 2018 at The Main Lecture Theatre, Divinity School, St. John's College, Cambridge. Professor Mary Beard, OBE, FSA, FBA, Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge, was 'In Conversation' with Professor Peter Frankopan, Professor of Global History, University of Oxford; Senior Research Fellow, Worcester College, Oxford.

We were delighted to welcome a capacity audience for the event, and we would like to extend our sincere thanks to both speakers for a fascinating discussion, and to all contributors.

Recording of the lecture available at:

In Women and Power: A Manifesto, Professor Mary Beard revisits the gender agenda and shows how history has treated powerful women. Her examples range from the classical world to the modern day, from Medusa and Athena to Theresa May and Hillary Clinton. Professor Beard explores the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, considering the public voice of women, our cultural assumptions about women's relationship with power, and how powerful women resist being packaged into a male template. With personal reflections on her own experiences of the sexism and gendered aggression she has endured online, Mary Beard asks: if women aren't perceived to be within the structures of power, isn't it power that we need to redefine? 

Professor Peter Frankopan

Professor Peter Frankopan is the author of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, and Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research. The Silk Roads  provides a major re-assessment of world history from antiquity to the modern day. Professor Frankopan works on the history of the Mediterranean, Russia, the Middle East, Persia/Iran and Central Asia, and on relations between Christianity and Islam. He also specialises in medieval Greek literature and translated The Alexiad for Penguin Classics (2009).



Professor Jack Halberstam: Presentation for Trans*: The Contemporary Politics of Trans*

Trans* Book cover © University of California Press

The Centre for Gender Studies hosted a presentation by Professor Jack Halberstam, Professor of Gender Studies and English, Columbia University, for his new book Trans* on Tuesday 15 May 2018 at the Main Lecture Theatre, Divinity School, St. John's College. This event was co-sponsored by the Department of Politics and International Studies.

We were delighted to welcome a capacity audience for the event, and we would like to extend our thanks to Professor Halberstam for an enlightening lecture and inspiring discussion, and to all contributors.

Recording of the lecture available at:

In the last decade, public discussions of transgender issues have increased exponentially. However, with this increased visibility has come not just power, but regulation, both in favour of and against trans people. What was once regarded as an unusual or even unfortunate disorder has become an accepted articulation of gendered embodiment as well as a new site for political activism and political recognition. In Trans*, Professor Jack Halberstam explores these recent shifts in the meaning of the gendered body and representation, and explores the possibilities of a non-gendered, gender-optional, or gender-queer future.


Academic Year 2016-17

Professor Carol Sanger: Presentation for About Abortion

About Abortion Book CoverThe Centre for Gender Studies hosted a presentation and book signing by Professor Carol Sanger, Barbora Aronstein Black Professor of Law, Columbia Law School for her new book About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in Twenty-First-Century America, on Thursday 25 May 2017 at the Alison Richard Building. 

One of the most private decisions a woman can make, abortion is also one of the most contentious topics in American civic life. To pry open the silence surrounding this public issue, in About Abortion Carol Sanger distinguishes between abortion privacy, a form of nondisclosure based on a woman’s desire to control personal information, and abortion secrecy, a woman’s defense against the many harms of disclosure.

We extend our thanks to Professor Sanger for her very informative presentation, and to all contributors.


Professor Catharine A. MacKinnon: Book Launch for Butterfly Politics

Butterfly Politics Book Cover

The Centre for Gender Studies and the Faculty of Philosophy co-hosted a presentation and book launch for Butterfly Politics by Professor Catharine A. MacKinnon, Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School and the James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, on Monday 15 May 2017 at the Faculty of Law.

A powerful critique of the legal and institutional denial of reality that perpetuates practices of gender inequality, Butterfly Politics provides a model of what principled, effective, socially conscious engagement with law looks like.


We would like to extend our thanks to Professor MacKinnon for a fascinating lecture and inspiring discussion, and to all contributors.

 Professor Catharine A. Mackinnon


Academic Year 2015-16 

Uncomfortable Truths, Unconventional Wisdoms: Women's Perspectives on Violent Extremism and Security Interventions

WASL group photoThe Centre for the Study of the International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa (CIRMENA) and the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies co-hosted a public talk by Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini and Sussan Tahmasebi, founders of the International Civil Society Action Network, on Monday 23 May 2016. The speakers discussed women’s perspectives on violent extremism and security interventions, with participation from grassroots peacebuilders from Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.

The panel addressed the diverse approaches of local women-led organisations to (1) the closing of civil society space as challenge to prevention of extremism, (2) the problems and potential of police (3) the role of militias and militarisation, and (4) international interventions. The experience shared by participants illustrated the findings of Uncomfortable Truths, Unconventional Wisdoms: Women’s Perspectives on Violent Extremism and Security Interventions, the first brief issued by the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) based on consultations with over 70 women peace and rights practitioners in 15 countries across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. 

The Centre for Gender Studies would like to thank all contributors to this fascinating and inspiring discussion.

For further information please see:

Speaker biographies:

Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the International Civil Society Network (ICAN) and spearheads the development and coordination of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL). She is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and between 2005-14 she was a Research Associate and Senior Fellow at the MIT Center for International Studies. In 2000 she was among the civil society drafters of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and she became the first Senior Expert on Gender and Inclusion on the UN’s Mediation Standby Team in 2011. For nearly two decades she has been a leading international advocate, researcher, trainer and writer on conflict prevention and peacebuilding. She was the 2014 recipient of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area Perdita Huston Award for human rights and the 2016 Greeley Peace Scholar at the University of Massachusetts.

Sussan Tahmasebi is an Iranian women’s rights activist and women human rights defender (WHRD). Currently she serves as the Director of the MENA/Asia region program at ICAN, which she co-founded in 2006. Prior to her work at ICAN, Ms Tahmasebi worked in Iran to promote women’s rights and strengthen civil society for over ten years. She is a founding member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, commonly referred to as the Campaign for Equality, a grassroots effort, which promoted broad awareness on women’s rights through collection of signatures of Iranians who support an end to gender-biased laws. In 2010 and 2011, she was honoured by Human Rights Watch with the Alison Des Forges Award for extraordinary activism, HRW’s highest honour, and was named by Newsweek as one of 150 women who “Shake the World” in 2011.

 'Juliet Mitchell and the Lateral Axis': Book Launch

Juliet Mitchell and the Lateral Axis

 The Centre for Gender Studies hosted a book launch for Juliet Mitchell and the Lateral Axis on Tuesday 23 February 2016 at Jesus College, Upper Hall. Professor Juliet Mitchell, Professor of Psychoanalysis and Gender Studies, University of Cambridge, was 'In Conversation' with the editors Dr Robbie Duschinsky, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge and Dr Susan Walker, Senior Lecturer in Sexual Health, Anglia Ruskin University. We would like to extend our thanks to all contributors for this very informative and interesting discussion.

 Juliet Mitchell and the Lateral Axis explores the implications of Professor Mitchell's ground-breaking theory regarding the effect of siblings on psychic development, politics and culture. Chapters by leading scholars address themes at the centre of public and academic discussion: equality, violence, collective movements, subjectivity, sexuality and power.

OUT IN OFFICE: LGBT Legislators and LGBT Rights Around the World

Out In Office: LGBT LegislatorsThe University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies hosted a public talk by Professor Andrew Reynolds, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill on Friday 6 November 2015. Professor Reynolds is Director of the LGBTQ Representation and Rights Research Initiative, which focuses on the impact of out LGBTQ elected officials on political change. In 2012 he embarked on a multi-year research project to study the impact of LGBT national parliamentarians on public policy around the world. His forthcoming book is The Children of Harvey Milk (2016).

Professor Reynolds discussed his research findings, which establish a link between the presence of out lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) members of parliament (MPs) around the world and the enactment of laws that ensure equity and protection for LGBT persons. We would like to thank Professor Reynolds for a highly informative presentation and interesting discussion.

Women, War and Peace: Reflections on 15 Years of UN Resolution 1325  

Liberian WomenThe Centre for Gender Studies held a public event 'Women, War and Peace' on Thursday 29 October 2015.

The following speakers reflected on the creation of UN Resolution 1325, which aims to address the inordinate impact of war on women, and the pivotal role women should play in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace:

Dame Barbara Stocking, President of Murray Edwards College and former Chief Executive of Oxfam GB

Dr Gina Heathcote, SOAS School of Law and Centre for Gender Studies

Dr Devon Curtis, Department of Politics and International Studies

The speakers also reviewed the recent Report of the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council on Women Peace and Security, S/2015/716. We would like to extend our thanks to all contributors for a very informative discussion.