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University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies


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Academic Year 2023-24

Women Art Freedom Symposium

A one-day symposium on Women Art Freedom organised by art historian Katayoun Shahandeh (SOAS) and sound artist Fari Bradley (UAL), brought together women academics and artists of Iranian origin to speak about the role of the visual and performing arts in the movement for women’s rights in Iran. This event was supported by the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies and was held at the Howard Theatre, Downing College on Saturday 18 November 2023.


Gender & Tech Event

Credit: Header image artwork Sinjin Li

The University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies hosted an event to mark the end of our Gender and Technology Research Project on Friday 3 November 2023 at the Old Divinity School, St John's College, Cambridge.

The event was held to celebrate a successful two years of The Good Robot Podcast, which now has over 40,000 downloads and launched the volume Feminist AI: Critical Perspectives on Intelligent Machines (Jude BrowneStephen CaveEleanor Drage, and Kerry McInerney) published by Oxford University Press.

Speakers included special guests Catherine D'Ignazio (MIT) and Lauren F. Klein (Emory University), authors of the award winning book Data Feminism published by MIT Press, who reflected on how feminist theory, ideas and approaches can positively shape tech development and deployment.


Academic Year 2022-23

Queer Hispanisms Now

Image: Performance I Des-espera (Les Impuixibles) © Josep Bednar

The Centre for Gender Studies co-sponsored a two-day conference on 'Queer Hispanisms now' on 3 - 4 July 2023. 

The panels in this conference were organised around critical debates currently taking place in the field of Queer Studies and panellists were invited to contribute to those debates by exploring the intersections between queerness and Hispanism.

Convenor: Isaias Fanlo, University of Cambridge.

Queerness is, among many other things, change; therefore, a queer gaze needs to be aware of mutations and deviations. In their fundamental essay “What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?” (2005), David L. Eng, Jack Halberstam and José Esteban Muñoz asked themselves a critical question: given all the achievements and the preponderance of identity politics in social, political, and academic discourses, what are the new paths Queer Theories should embrace? “The contemporary mainstreaming of gay and lesbian identity —as a mass-mediated consumer lifestyle and embattled legal category— demands a renewed queer studies ever vigilant to the fact that sexuality is intersectional, not extraneous to other modes of different”, the authors claim (1).

Queer Hispanists have hitherto explored the state of the issue and the new divergences of the discipline, in volumes like ¿Entiendes? Queer Readings, Hispanic Writings (1995), Hispanisms and Homosexualities (1998), and Queer Iberia. Sexualities, Cultures, and Crossings from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance (1999). But what happens to Queer Hispanisms Now? Have Queer Studies in the field of Hispanism transcended the initial emphasis on the sociocultural outpouring of desire and sexuality and its radical potential? How can a queer gaze articulate crossings and intersections between the different territories and cultures included within the field (Peninsular Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Spanish Latin America, Portugal, Brazil, Native Cultures)?


Changing the Subject: Feminist and Queer Politics in Neoliberal India



In this GoMAD (Grammars of Marriage and Desire) event supported by the Centre for Gender Studies, Professor Srila Roy (University of the Witwatersrand) discussed her new monograph ‘Changing the Subject: Feminist and Queer Politics in Neoliberal India’ (Duke University Press, 2022) with Shuvatri Dasgupta. The event took place online on 7 June 2023.

In the book, Professor Roy maps the rapidly transforming terrain of gender and sexual politics in India under the conditions of global neoliberalism. The consequences of India’s liberalization were paradoxical: the influx of global funds for social development and NGOs signaled the co-optation and depoliticization of struggles for women’s rights, even as they amplified the visibility and vitalization of queer activism. She reveals the specificity of activist and NGO work around issues of gender and sexuality through a decade-long ethnography of two West Bengal organizations, one working on lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues and the other on rural women’s empowerment. Tracing changes in feminist governmentality that were entangled in transnational neoliberalism, Roy shows how historical and highly local feminist currents shaped contemporary queer and nonqueer neoliberal feminisms. The interplay between historic techniques of activist governance and queer feminist governmentality’s focus on changing the self offers a new way of knowing feminism—both as always already co-opted and as a transformative force in the world.

Srila Roy is Professor of Sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand, author of 'Remembering Revolution: Gender, Violence, and Subjectivity in India’s Naxalbari Movement', and editor of 'New South Asian Feminisms: Paradoxes and Possibilities'.

Shuvatri Dasgupta is an Associate Lecturer at the School of History, University of St Andrews.


Book Launch and ‘In Conversation’: Fratriarchy: Professor Juliet Mitchell


The Centre for Gender Studies hosted an event to mark the launch of Professor Juliet Mitchell's latest book Fratriarchy: The Sibling Trauma and the Law of the Mother (Routledge, 2023) on Tuesday 2 May 2023 at Keynes Hall, King’s College. Professor Juliet Mitchell, Professor of Psychoanalysis and Gender Studies and Emeritus Fellow of Jesus College; Professorial Research Associate, UCL, was in conversation with Dr Holly Porter, Deputy Director, UCCGS. The event was followed by a lunch reception in the Chetwynd Rooms. 

In Fratriarchy, Juliet Mitchell expands her ground-breaking theories on the sibling trauma and the Law of the Mother. Writing as a psychoanalytic practitioner, she shows what happens from the ground up when we use feminist questions to probe the psycho-social world and its lateral relations.

In this pivotal text, Mitchell argues that the mother’s prohibition of her toddler attacking a new or expected sibling is a rite of passage from infancy to childhood: this is a foundational force structuring our later lateral relationships and social practices. Throughout the volume, Mitchell chooses the term 'Fratriarchy' to show that, as well as the up-down axis of fathers and sons, there is also the side-to-side interaction of sisters and brothers and their social heirs. Making use both critically and affirmatively of Freud, Klein, Winnicott, Bion, Pontalis and others, Fratriarchy indicates how the collective social world matches the individual family world examined by established psychoanalysis. Decades on from Mitchell’s work on psychoanalysis and feminism which argued that feminism needed psychoanalysis to understand the position of women, Fratriarchy now asks psychoanalysis to take on board the developing practices and theories of global feminism.


Who Is Afraid of Gender? Public Lecture: Professor Judith Butler


The Department of Sociology, LGBTQ+@Cam and the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies hosted a public lecture by Professor Judith Butler on Who is Afraid of Gender? on Wednesday 26 April 2023 at the West Road Concert Hall. The lecture was attended by a capacity audience and was followed by a Q&A. Our sincere thanks to Professor Butler for a remarkable lecture and to all contributors who helped to create such a memorable evening.

This event is now available to view online here.

In recent years, the attack on “gender” as if it were an ideology has heightened among right-wing movements, nationalist governments, and new fascist formations. At the same time, some feminists have advanced a “critical” position on gender, seeking a return to “facts” or “biology” in their efforts to undermine trans rights. Although the fascist and feminist movements are not the same, they end up, perhaps paradoxically, advocating similar concerns with ideas of social construction, suggesting that new gender politics is engaged in propagating falsehoods and destroying some or all of the following: sex, family, nation, God, and civilization. Both movements characterize gender as a frightening power, one that can, or will, take over educational curricula, destroy the binary understanding of sex, and propagate false and dangerous forms of knowledge. In this lecture, Professor Judith Butler will ask why, and how, gender has become such a fearsome phantasm, and consider what a psychosocial understanding of the phantasmatic domain might illuminate about these new public discourses and their political positions.


Progressive laws, Regressive practice? Gender, land and productivity in India


Professor Bina Agarwal, Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the GDI, University of Manchester gave a public talk on Progressive laws, Regressive practice? Gender, land and productivity in India on Tuesday 22 November at the Alison Richard BuildingThe event was co-hosted by the Centre for Gender Studies, the Centre of South Asian Studies and the Centre for History and Economics and was followed by a Q&A and drinks reception. We would like to extend our thanks to Professor Agarwal and all contributors.

A recording of the talk can be accessed here

Since Independence, India’s inheritance laws have moved towards substantial gender equality. But how far has equality permeated practice? Although women are major contributors as farmers, how many own agricultural land? And in what capacity do they own it – as daughters or elderly widows? Equally, how do female owners perform in terms of farm productivity relative to male owners? These questions have been little addressed in the Indian context, especially due to data scarcity. This presentation, based on two recent papers, provides answers. Using a unique longitudinal dataset, the research assesses inter-gender (male-female) gaps in land ownership through multiple indicators, over 2009–2014, across nine states. It also analyses intra-gender gaps between women, examining if the legal strengthening of daughters’ rights has overcome the historically embedded legitimacy of widows’ claims? Finally, it compares female and male owners in terms of their land use and productivity.

Bina Agarwal was the Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professor at the Centre for Gender Studies in Michaelmas 2018 and is currently visiting the Centre for History and Economics, University of Cambridge. She has been President of the International Society for Ecological Economics, President of the International Association for Feminist Economics, and Vice President of the International Economic Association.

Agarwal’s interdisciplinary research covers diverse topics, including property and land rights, technological change, environmental governance, bargaining and gender relations, law, and poverty, analysed from a political economy and gender perspective. Her 13 books include the prize-winning, A Field of One’s Own (Cambridge University Press, 1994); Gender and Green Governance (Oxford University Press, 2010); and Gender Challenges (OUP, 2016), a three volume compendium of her selected papers. She has garnered many awards, including a Padma Shri in 2008 from India’s President; the Leontief Prize 2010 ‘for advancing the frontiers of economic thought’; the Louis Malassis International Scientist Prize 2017; and the International Balzan Prize 2017. She is now writing a book on Group farming in Asia and Europe. See also:


Amalgam: Queering the Body Politic


A poetry reading and conversation with the award-winning poet and writer C. Dale Young was held on Thursday 27 October 2022 in the Auditorium of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and co-hosted by the Centre for Gender Studies. Young, in conversation with Dr Isaias Fanlo, Assistant Professor in Modern Iberian Literary and Cultural Studies & Iberian Studies Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, discussed the creative process, writing in the intersections of race and queerness, the connections between poetry and medicine, and his forthcoming collection of New and Selected Poems, Building the Perfect Animal

C. Dale Young was born in 1969 and grew up in the Caribbean and South Florida. He received a bachelor of science in molecular biology and English at Boston College in 1991 and went on to earn an MFA in English and creative writing and a doctoral degree in medicine, both from the University of Florida.

Young is the author of five poetry collections: Prometeo (Four Way Books, 2021), a finalist for the 2022 UNT Rilke Prize; The Halo (Four Way Books, 2016), a finalist for the Lambda Award; Torn (Four Way Books, 2011); The Second Person (Four Way Books, 2007), a finalist for the Lambda Award; and The Day Underneath the Day (Northwestern University Press, 2001). He is also the author of the novel in stories The Affliction (Four Way Books, 2018). Young’s honors include the Grolier Prize and the Tennessee Williams Scholarship in Poetry, as well as fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. The former poetry editor of the New England Review (1995–2014), Young currently practices medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. He lives in San Francisco.