Controlling Sexuality and Reproduction: Past and Present, Canada, 12-14 Aug 2015

What: Controlling Sexuality and Reproduction: Past and Present
When: 12-14 August 2015
Where: University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Deadline for abstracts: 15 February 2015

Sexuality and its effects, as Michel Foucault once claimed, operate as dense transfer points of power relations. As such, states, institutions and citizen groups have been and continue to be deeply concerned with producing an ideal, normative citizenry by controlling sex, sexuality and reproduction.

Certain kinds of sexuality and certain kinds of sexual actors are more likely than others to be policed and contained. In the past and in the current context, marginalized people and practices have been subject to containment, harassment, prosecution or ‘correction’ in terms of their sexual and reproductive lives. These practices have included the classification or sorting of peoples in the following ways:

  • as disabled,
  • as sexually or gender deviant
  • as Aboriginal or members of a racialized group
  • as members of non-normative family forms,
  • as inmates, in prisons, asylums  and other institutional sites,
  • as dependent on the welfare state,
  • as  engaging in non-heteronormative sexual practices
  • as involved in sex work and/or sex surrogacy

Historical and current-context efforts at containment of those classified accordingly have included:

  • eugenics, or the involuntary sterilization of disabled people, imprisoned people and members of indigenous and other racialized groups;
  • policing and prosecuting polygynous and polygamous family forms
  • heteronormative surveillance, policing and regulation of queer and trans* people
  • the protectionism, infantilization or demonization of disabled or mad people
  • limiting support and access to disabled people’s sexual and familial lives
  • regulation and prosecution of sex workers and sex surrogates
  • chemical and medical interventions in prisons, institutions, hospitals, and asylums
  • segregation through residential schools and other institutions
  • segregation and containment embedded in community practice, and in immigration policy
  • informal practices of violence, abuse, and/or exclusion

The conference seeks to explore and challenge the seeming naturalness of historical and current efforts to control and marginalize certain kinds of sex and reproduction, and to illuminate commonalities and differences amongst these various efforts to police sexual, reproductive and family lives. We ask why and how particular sets of behaviours or peoples are targets of control, and thus seek to examine what kinds of ‘normal’ values are being upheld. We encourage presentations that illuminate the production of ableism, heteronormativity, Whiteness, gender, and ideal citizenship.

In addition to academic papers, we are interested in opening up a platform for the discussion of personal experiences of sexual and reproductive control, experiences of resistance, and the engagement of community and self-advocacy groups in working toward inclusive and positive sexual and reproductive models. We welcome proposals from community members, activists and advocates. Non-traditional presentations are encouraged, including performances, oral history presentations, and roundtable discussions on any of the following themes:

Law, Ethics and Sexual/Reproductive Control, Past and Present

  • Eugenics and state sanctioned sterilisation
  • Legislation of specific family forms
  • Family, disability, immigration and welfare policy as informal means of control
  • Sex work, sex surrogacy and the state
  • Practices affecting First Nations people concerning family rights and reproductive capacity

Medicine and Sexual/Reproductive Control, Past and Present

  • Prenatal screening and genetic counseling
  • Differential access to Assistive Reproductive Technologies based on sexuality, disability, age, marital status, class, religion or citizenship
  • The use of chemical restraints to control desire and fertility in prison and institutional populations and targeted community groups

Social Services and Sexual/Reproductive Control, Past and Present

  • Formalized means of reproductive control  in the welfare state – family, disability and welfare policy
  • Guardianship arrangements, autonomy and sexual and reproductive freedom
  • Funding arrangements that preclude sexual agency or family autonomy

Representation and Controlling Sexuality, Past and Present

  • Visual culture, current and historical
  • Moving images – television, film, video, theatre, performance, digital landscapes
  • Narratives and Oral Histories of survivorship

We encourage single paper submissions to facilitate the construction of multidisciplinary panels. Proposals for multidisciplinary panels are also welcome. Graduate students are encouraged to contribute posters on their current research. 250 word abstracts for single papers or individual presentations, and 500 words for panels should be submitted by midnight, February 15, 2015.  Abstracts should be submitted through the conference website; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s),
b)   affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme,
c)   email address,
d)   title of abstract,
e)   body of abstract,
f)   up to 10 keywords

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note presentations should be a maximum of 15 minutes in length. Each speaker will have 20 minutes for presentation and discussion.

The conference aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed edited volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

For further details of the conference and to submit an abstract, please visit:


Claudia Malacrida and Suzanne Lenon

Conference Program Chairs

Controlling Sexuality and Reproduction, Then and Now


The University of Lethbridge

4401 University Drive

Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

T1K 3M4


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