Gender, sexualities and transgressive cities

Call for papers

Published on 18 January 2016 par Equipe GIS IdG

Invitation to consider participation in sessions on ‘Gender, sexualities and transgressive cities‘ at RC21 conference, Mexico City, 21 to 23 July 2016

Dr Bradley Rink (Geography, University of the Western Cape), Professor Tamara Shefer (Women’s and Gender Studies, University of the Western Cape) and Alan Mabin (Capital Cities programme, University of Pretoria and City Institute, University of the Witwatersrand) successfully proposed a ‘stream’ for the 2016 conference of RC21 to be held in Mexico City in July. We invite you to consider sending us an abstract with a view to participation in what we think will be an amazing event and of course, in what we hope will be a wonderful discussion in our stream.

The call for abstracts across the conference is now open

our stream (number 22 in a list of 26 accepted streams) is at

The deadline for abstracts is 31 January 2016. We know this is not far off, and even July is not that far away, yet trust that you will consider writing an abstract and perhaps participating in Mexico City.

WE WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO INTEREST YOU IN SUBMITTING AN ABSTRACT FOR THE CONFERENCE WITHIN OUR THEME. To do so please send by e-mail to me and in cc to We as convenors will let you know on 28 February 2016 if your abstracted accepted (pretty certain it will be!) - and your paper would be due (if you want to submit it, which is encouraged for distribution) on 1 July 2016. See also end of this doc for details.

We don’t have funds presently to support travel etc, sorry to say, so this is an invitation to put in an abstract at this point … hoping you will find ways to travel yourself!

Of course the call is public and we will accept appropriate abstracts from anyone as we seek to construct some creative and rewarding discussions at the event. We hope to have about 3 sessions – we shall see, on the basis of what comes in.

Gender, sexualities and transgressive cities – description of the stream

In myriad forms, everyday as well as long term gendered practices and transgressive sexualities challenge both urban governmental regulation and our understandings of city space and change. At RC21 2016, we propose to create space to reflect across multiple sites on how reconfigurations of gender and sexualities challenge social norms and regulatory forms in the city. We imagine consideration of how boundaries of undesirability with respect to sexualities and genders are shifting; and implications of such shifts for city configurations in the future. Through careful and sensitive examination of hidden spaces and practices, as well as public performances and de/reterritorialisation, we envisage learning from inversions and subversions of the normative.

We invite contributions that engage with widespread intellectual and political contest around gender and sexualities in the city. From radically different approaches to sex work, emphasizing connection and boundary making, through practices of regulation (cf. Caviglia 2013), through recompositions and quarterings of urban space (Rink 2015), to examinations of mobilities and diverse perceptions of cities through prisms of gender and sexuality (cf Nash & Gorman-Murray 2014) and beyond, we anticipate vigorous debate on past, present and future cities and their malleable social forms.

There is of course much space for addressing oppressions and violences associated with sexualities and gender in the transgressive city, yet at the same time we are interested to attract contributions that explore dimensions of agency, pleasure and alternate opportunities, in order to challenge regulation, control, violence and oppressive urban practices as well as to open new ways of being in the city through transgression, thereby exploring how such practices create new landscapes of city experience and ways of moving through the city (for example Shefer et. al. 2011).

We anticipate contributions that raise questions of what it means to transgress, what that means for the city, what that means in terms of new gendered roles and perhaps new sexualities, across diverse cities in the world, collectively engaging and opening discussion. Diverse conceptual approaches, stretching at least from Chicago School studies of sexualities (cf. Heap 2003) through materialist, materialist feminist and other current conceptualisations such as the affective turn and posthumanism, will be welcome.


  • Caviglia, Lisa 2013 Sex [at] work in Kathmandu: discourses around sexuality, self perception and society, Doctoral dissertation, University of Heidelberg, Germany
  • Heap, Chad 2003 The City as a Sexual Laboratory: The Queer Heritage of the Chicago School Qualitative Sociology, Vol. 26, No. 4, Winter
  • Nash, C. J., & Gorman‐Murray, A. 2014. LGBT neighbourhoods and ‘new mobilities’: Towards understanding transformations in sexual and gendered urban landscapes. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38 (3), 756-772.
  • Rink, Bradley 2015 Quartering the City in Discourse and Bricks: Articulating Urban Change in a South African Enclave Urban Forum DOI 10.1007/s12132-015-9270-8 (November)
  • Shefer, Tamara; Anna Strebel, Cheryl Potgieter & Claire Wagner 2011 ‘Sometimes taxi men are rough..’: Young women’s experiences of the risks of being a ‘taxi queen’, African Safety Promotion Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2, 1-24

Information on RC21 – see also

Research Committee 21 on Sociology of Urban and Regional Development of the International Sociological Association was established in 1970 to promote theory and research in the sociology of urban and regional development, and – in so doing – create an international community of scholars who will advance the field. RC21 is part of the International Sociological Association but frequently meets as a stand-alone conference: in 2015 in Urbino Italy, in 2013 in Berlin for example, and attracting a few hundred participants on those occasions.

Information on the conference and venue

The conference theme is - The transgressive city: Comparative perspectives on governance and the possibilities of everyday life in the emerging global city.

Venue: you will know that Mexico City is one of the largest cities of the world and undoubtedly one of the richest cultural centers of the Americas. It has a diverse and rich history of cultural dialogue, with numerous historical sites that may be of interest to the conference participants (from pre-Hispanic pyramids to cutting edge contemporary art museums). Despite international news about violence in the country, the capital city remains safe and conference delegates should not have security problems.

Conference venue - All activities will take place in the Colegio de Mexico (Colmex), which is located approximately 22 km south of the historical center, near Ciudad Universitaria (4 km) and the Coyoacan and San Angel area (famous for being the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera).

Details for submitting abstract

Once again, please submit your abstract by email to me and in cc to We as convenors will let you know on 28 February 2016 if your abstracted accepted (pretty certain it will be!) - and your paper would be due (if you want to submit it, which is encouraged for distribution) on 1 July 2016.

Abstracts proposals should include the following information:

The stream to which the abstract is submitted, that is Gender, sexualities and transgressive cities

A synthesis of the issues to be addressed in the paper, the hypothesis underlying them, the empirical and/or the theoretical basis, and the structure of the paper (300-500 words).

The contact of the author(s): Name(s), affiliation, address (including postal code), a phone number (will not be made public) and an e-mail address.