*SOGI: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
On 8 November 2018, INCISE Visiting Professor Dr. Ulrike E. Auga reported on the state of Gender Studies and academic freedom in Hungry and Europe at a hearing in the European Parliament.
The politically motivated non-re-registration of Gender Studies in Hungary in October 2018 prompted numerous protests. Responding to a letter from the International Association for Institutions of Advanced Gender Studies (RINGS), an association of more than 60 internationally renowned gender research institutions, the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Brussels invited RINGS members for an exchange of views. At the public meeting of the committee on November 8, 2018, Prof. Dr. Ulrike E. Auga (INCISE) and Dr. Annette von Alemann (Paderborn) presented their statements, which beyond Hungary reported further attacks of the political right wing on scientific research, Gender Studies as an academic discipline and LGBTIQ* life in Europe including Germany. The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality expressed its deep concern about the paradigm shift in the nature of the attacks. After the meeting, the experts received numerous requests from parliamentarians.
Prof. Dr. Ulrike E. Auga and Dr. Annette von Alemann participated in the hearing as the two experts at the invitation of Vilija Blinkevičiūtė MEP, the chairperson of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.
The meeting of the committee with the statements and discussion has been recorded and is available as a free stream under the following link:
A translation into different languages is available. The statements reflect the individual views of the authors.
Prof. Dr. Ulrike Auga is professor for Gender, Cultural and Religious Studies. She is a permanent fellow at the Centre for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin and the Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI), Princeton and works as visiting professor at the Intersectional Centre for Inclusion and Social Justice (INCISE), Canterbury Christ Church University (UK). In 2018 she also taught at the Gender Equality Studies and Training Program of the United Nations University (UNU-GEST) in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Dr. Annette von Alemann is a sociologist, gender expert and currently visiting professor at Paderborn University.
Committee Meeting | Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM)
Hearing Exchange of Views about Gender Studies in Hungary
RINGS – The International Research Association of Institutions of Advanced Gender Studies
Prof. Dr. Ulrike E. Auga, INCISE and ZtG, Humboldt University of Berlin
Dr. Annette von Alemann, Paderborn University
|Experts’ Hearing (full-length)||10:42:35 – 11:41:36|
|Experts’ Hearing (Prof. Dr. Ulrike E. Auga)||10:55:32 – 11:15:39|
|Experts’ Hearing (Dr. Annette von Alemann, Prof. Dr. Ulrike E. Auga)||10:45:12 – 11:15:39|
Via the icon “Tonspur/ Soundtrack” a simultaneous translation of the committee meeting into different languages can be activated.
INCISE is delighted to announce the appointement of Prof. Dr. Ulrike Auga as Visiting Professor at INCISE.
Prof. Auga will give her INCISE Visiting Professorship Inaugural Lecture on
Challenging the Government of the Living
The Cult of Confession and Bodily, Material Resistance
Monday, 21 May 2018
5:30-7pm, Og32 (Old Session House, ground floor)
This is also INCISEs lecture marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). Book your place here (free).
Michel Foucault’s On the Government of the Living (2012) explains how confession and obedience shape the ‘modern’ concept of the subject. The ‘West’ developed a false concept of confession as ‘liberation’. Jo Sol’s documentary Fake Orgasm (2010) stages performer Lazlo Pearlman who explores the subversion of confessional culture via the use of the nude transsexual body. As a transsexual performer s/he* experiences the strong request of the audience to confess his/her* ‘identity’, which s/he* resists. Pearlman performs a corporeal insurrection. The presentation using film extracts elaborates how the performative and material body denounces the production of the ontological, identitarian body and bio-political regulations and allows for a genealogical, and critical discussion.
Ulrike E. Auga is Visiting Professor at the Intersectional Centre for Inclusion and Social Justice (INCISE) at Canterbury Christ Church University. Born in East Berlin, she is a Gender, Cultural and Religious Studies scholar at the Centre for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies at Humboldt University of Berlin (ZtG). Currently, Dr. Auga also teaches Gender Studies at the Paris Lodron University Salzburg, Austria. She is the Vice-President of the International Association for the Study of Religion and Gender (IARG). Her research interests include: Gender, Cultural Memory, Nationalisms, Fundamentalisms in Transition Contexts (South Africa, West Africa, East/West Germany); Gender, Performativity and Agency in the Visual Archive; Postcolonial, Postsecular, Gender / Queer theory development; Posthuman Epistemology.
A brief impression of the event inspired by the Claude Cahun exhibition at the Sidney Cooper Gallery in Canterbury.
Read Professor Scherer’s speech here.
It is fitting to reflect on the continued relevance of Claude Cahun (1894-1954), an artist, whom the BBC recently described as a ‘transgender Jewish lesbian … and anti-fascist’.
Actually, to me this attempt to characterise Cahun, appears to be limiting and misleading: Contemporary terms such a queer and genderqueer, gender-defiant, non-binary etc might be better poised to leave open the complexity and exhilarating messiness of the artists’ identitarian performance who negotiated a unique albeit contested position in the bohemian spaces awarded to identity experimentations and expressions within the north American and European contexts of the ‘rolling twenties’ and the fascist-looming 1930s. This unique window of, geographically limited and fragmented, queer visibility, space and freedoms from New York to Paris and notoriously Berlin, appears as the breathing space before the coming fascist-reactionary storm – a backlash frighteningly foreshadowing the current political crossroads and the potentials of bigotry, neo-fascism, and xenophobia. Claude was Jewish from her father’s side and changed her birth name Schwob to a Jewish priestly name (Cahun = Cohen, Kohen).
In Judaism the horrors of history are well remembered with the Biblical warning זָכוֺר לֹא תִּשְׁכָּח zakhor … lo tishkach (דְּבָרִים Devarim [Deuteronomy] 25, 17 -19). The midrashic interpretation of this dual view on memory points to both internal (commemoration) and external (active non-forgetting) dimensions. This Judaeo-European call for memory as resistance in action contrasts to the Greco-European tradition of philosophy of history expressed in Thucydides’ chapter on method in his Archaeology at the beginning of his work on the Peloponnesian War (i.22, 4). Here, pessimism about the nature of humankind (κατὰ τὸ ἀνθρώπινον, kata to anthrōpinon) mixes with fatalism. Thucydides’ τὸ σαφὲς σκοπεῖν (to saphes skopein), to examine in all clarity the past, does not entail any necessary or even possible recourse to changing the present and future: rather the future will to a great degree repeat the past: τῶν μελλόντων ποτὲ αὖθις … τοιούτων καὶ παραπλησίων ἔσεσθαι (tōn mellontōn pote authis … toioutōn kai paraplēsiōn esesthai).
Cahun’s life and time is inspiration and call for continued action, emancipation, liberation, résistance and subversion of the fundamental societal scripts that prescribe the limits of our own identitarian explorations and expressions.
This day has exemplified this uniting theme beyond technical, theoretical, geographical and historical diversity: The challenges to the societal scripts, normativities, simplifications, reductionisms and biopolitical oppressions around gender and sexualities. Behind these oppressions lies the male privilege and the patriarchal power, which reduces humanity into dualistic sex/gender binaries and proclaims the superiority of one of them – intersected with race, ethnicity, abled-bodiness, age, class etc.
Both biological sex and culturally produced gender as well as sexuality are spectral rather than binary: intersex vs. monosex, trans vs. cis, hetero vs. homo are but false dichotomies; rather, embodied experiences emerge on a fluid spectrum only hampered by essentialising and ontologically dichotomising discourses. Our embodied variabilities express the full possibility of humankind, as Mounsey’s approach to disability puts it as ‘same only different’. Without any reference necessary to any hegemonic (normative) centre that would create a margin, identity assemblages and rhizomatic nods of becoming can appear and be lived without othering – same only different.
Claude Cahun expressed defiance, challenge and queering of gender stereotypes and sexual normativities within the context of the flourishing of ‘sexology’ as a medical, positivist struggle to understand non-normative identities; the contemporary LGBTI+ communities still live in the shadow of early sexologies which pigeon-holed and essentialised identities rather than subverted and exploded oppressive normalcies. During the 1920s and 1930s the distinction between homosexualities and trans-experiences was only emerging and linguistic subversion of normativities moved within different parameters than the current battlefields of gender-just and gender-neutral language. Through art and life Claude, who continued to use the female pronoun for herself, as what we would now call a truly queer artist contributed and pre-shaped the conceptual, feminist, queer and trans theoretical challenges that drive Queer activism today.