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Gender and Ontology Reading Group

ASCA/OSZW Reading Group organized by Alex Thinius

“If the female function is not enough to define woman, and if we also reject the explanation of the ‘eternal feminine’, but if we accept, even temporarily, that there are women on the earth, we then have to ask: what is a woman?” (de Beauvoir 2011 [1949], 4-5)

Gender is troubled and troubling. It is deeply personal, political, and politicized. But what is gender actually? What should we make today of the distinction between sex and gender? How should we understand what sex-gender categories, values, roles, classes, relations, practices, ideals, structures, or labels are and how they relate? What is their relation to how we can lead our lives as concrete people? Is sex-gender at most about people or should we be able to see it in other phenomena as well, e.g., artifacts, colors, social spheres, or economic distinctions? How does it relate to other elements of a situation, e.g., socio-economic, ableist, or racist inequalities? Can and should an ontology of sex-gender be localized, and how to achieve that? More generally, what does doing justice to sex-gender reveal about the relationship between ontological and normative questions? Is an ontology of sex-gender needed to name, analyze, and undo sex-gender related injustice and oppression, and what would it need to look like? What approach to ontology suggests itself after a critical study of sex-gender? 

The idea is to read contemporary and classical texts, get a better understanding of different options how to understand sex-gender, and connect researchers interested in conceptualizing gender. To this end, the reading group invites people from any relevant background. In the past, it has been particularly interesting for PhD candidates, post-docs, and advanced Master’s students. 

The concrete program and format is flexible and up to the interests of the participants. It has turned out helpful to decide on a number of dates and readings in advance per semester.

Topics during the last two years have been or may be things like: de Beauvoir and different readings of her work, constructivist accounts, Marxist feminism, phenomenological approaches, sexual difference approaches, performativity theory, practice theory, dynamic systems theory, queer studies, analytic feminism, (feminist) empiricism, new materialism, Africana feminism, decolonial approaches, black feminism, historical work on 19th century sexology, masculinities studies, pregnancy studies, trans* studies, early- and proto-feminism.

Please email Alex (a.thinius@uva.nl) at any time to participate, co-organize, or receive more information.

From January to June 2021,  guided by Alvaro Lopez Navarro & Mina Hunt, the Gender and Philosophy Reading Group is going to  start off with a focus on transmasculinities, and see where it takes us. The idea is to read contemporary and classical texts, get a better understanding of different options how to understand sex-gender, and connect researchers interested in conceptualizing gender. We’re meeting the second-to-last Friday of a month, 16-18hrs Amsterdam time, and add an optional meeting in between the regular monthly meetings. We will update the concrete readings as we go along (save the link to the schedule).

The dates until June are:

22.1.    Transmasculinities 

  • Hansbury, Griffin (2011) King Kong & Goldilocks: Imagining Transmasculinities Through the Trans–Trans Dyad, Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 21:2, 210-220, DOI: 10.1080/10481885.2011.562846
  • Salamon, Gayle (2005) Transmasculinity and Relation. Commentary on Griffin Hansbury’s “Middle Men”. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 6(3):265–275.
  • [5.2.     TBA]
  • 19.2.    TBA
  • [5.3.     TBA]
  • 19.3.    TBA
  • [9.4.     TBA]
  • 23.4.    TBA
  • [7.5.     TBA]
  • 21.5.    TBA
  • [4.6.     TBA]
  • 18.6.    TBA