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Call for Postcards
Workshop in Hamburg
Fri/ Sat 26/27 September 2003

Intervention rather than Integration

Queer/feminist Critique of European Politics and Globalisation

"The organisation of sex and gender once had functions other than itself - it organized society. Now it only organizes and reproduces itself. " (Rubin 'The Traffic in Women' 1975, 199)

With this thesis, Gayle Rubin in 1975 threw open a window on a promising vista: Arguing that the hierarchical differentiation of the sexes had dwindled to an anachronism, she asserted that regimes of normative heterosexuality and rigid binary sex/genders can be challenged politically. From the mid-1980s onwards, queer theories and politics have taken up this argument; doubting however that sex and sexuality have indeed lost their socio-structural meaning. Rather, queer theory now and newly asks about the function of sex and sexuality for the organisation of society and of concrete social practices and institutions. This widening perspective is implied in the term 'heteronormativity'. Rigid binary sex/genders and normative heterosexuality do not only shape identities, relationships or desire but also social institutions and processes.

It is in this spirit that we intend the workshop 'Intervention rather than Integration' to take place: we wish to sharpen the socio-theoretical aspect of queer theory and connect it to a critique of globalisation. We not only intend to consider how the heterosexualised gender relations are socio-historically conditioned and bio-politically constituted. We also want to examine the social, political and economic roles that sex and sexuality play in keeping in place national and global capitalist and racist patterns. Moreover, for gender and sexual identities under post-modern, neo-liberal social conditions there is the need to question the role of individualisation and flexibility as well as of the increased acceptance and social integration of divergent life models.

The concept of integration deserves our particular attention. It is, after all, not only decisive in the areas of migration and sexual politics, but also in 'European Politics' as well as international institutions and globalised economy. In all of those contexts the allegedly progressive term 'integration' in fact serves to spread the norms of the dominant, eurocentric culture, to install its hierarchies and to conceal annexations. We want to examine the homogenisation and exclusion which in fact result out of concepts of integration. They manifest in the shape of racist border regimes, migration and security politics, the economisation of social politics and the diminishing principles of solidarity - here we wish to focus on the categories of sex and sexuality:

? What is the meaning of societal organisation of sex and sexuality for neo-liberal politics of inclusion and exclusion in the areas of work, education and social rights?

? To what extent do politics of asylum and migration make use of the 'naturalness' of normative heterosexuality and rigid binary sex/genders, in their attempts to suppress mobility within and into Europe?

? What does this mean in terms of the new EU member states: who 'desires' accession and for what reasons; what is the price for membership and who will profit? Why would one refuse to accede and who gets refused?

? How are racist and ethnicising practices connected to social relations of sex and sexuality? To what extent are migration movements regulated by issues of sex and sexuality?

? What are the functions of sex and sexuality for the formation of social subjectivities and the organisation of society in a globalising world of information webs and financial capital? In what way are these functions subject to highly dissimilar conditions in northern, western, eastern, southern, post-fordian, post-socialist, post-colonial societies?

? How can these 'functions' be defined at all, given specific socio-geo-historical conditions and taking into account the possibility that there might not be one uniform regime of sex and sexuality, but rather a multiplicity of manifold, contradictory, more-or-less-hegemonic discourses and practices?

? How rigid and binding - as opposed to flexible and voluntary - are the implied norms, practices, techniques and mechanisms? To what extent is 'functionality' implemented through the active participation of individuals?

Form / Forum / Future:
With the two-day workshop 'Intervention rather than Integration' we wish to create a forum for theoretical and political debates. We do not want to impose a rigid structure to the range of topics. Rather than having formal papers, we want to make space for a dynamic multiplicity of interests and perspectives through short presentations or input - in any media format. It is with view to this that we do not send out a Call for Papers but instead send a Call for Postcards.

Anybody who is interested in the Workshop, please send - by 31 August - an electronic or paper postcard that contains in verbal or (audio-)visual form a contribution to the debate outlined above. We intend to provide pre-workshop web-access to the postcards for participants, providing a chance of 'cross-fertilisation' and enabling participants to refer to each other's contributions in their input. We hope that discussions in the workshop will enable us to develop topics and a network that might lead to an international conference in the near future.

At the moment we are preparing the workshop in English and German. But given the topic we would like to open up the event towards more languages and also to experiment on modes of translation. For this purpose we will provide an electronic diary and invite everybody to come up with ideas and competences for running a multi-lingual conference debate.

Please send your postcards by 31 August, 2003 to: esi2004@w4w.net


Antke Engel and Claudia Koltzenburg

Claudia Koltzenburg (Hamburg),
European Lesbian Studies, WILD (www.sappho.net/wild)
and amnesty international, German Chapter,
Sexual Identity and Human Rights, MeRSI (www.amnesty.de/de/2918)

Dr. Antke Engel
Ass Prof of Queer Theory
University of Hamburg
Institute of Sociology
Allende Platz 1
D - 20146 Hamburg


In cooperation with "umdenken - politisches Bildungswerk,
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Hamburg e.V."