CFP: 1st Global Conference on Sexuality and Disability, Lisbon, Portugal

Dates: 6th – 8th May 2014

Place: Lisbon, Portugal

Call For Presentations:

“Sexuality is an integral part of the personality of everyone: man, woman and child; it is a basic need and aspect of being human that cannot be separated from other aspects life.” (World Health Organisation)

Statistics suggest that over 50 percent of disabled people do not have a sex life, which is not surprising given the fact that disabled people are too often considered as non-sexual or asexual. Recent television programmes shown in the UK have attempted to document the sex and love lives of the disabled, The Undateables and Sex on Wheels (both Channel 4 TV). While such programmes can be seen as progressive in terms of acknowledging that disabled people want and/or have sex lives, moving away from the popular perception of disabled people as asexual, they also perpetuate the medical model of disability in which disability is constructed in sympathetic terms and portrayed in a voyeuristic fashion: disability as object of festishistic scopophilia. While social issue cinema continues to evoke sympathy rather than challenge conventions, horror cinema constructs disability not only as sexualised but often as monstrous abnormality linked with criminality. Images of disability may aim at evoking disgust through the construction of the discourse of abjection. In addition, the sex lives of the disabled are too often ignored within the arena of disability politics itself.

This conference seeks to challenge popular conceptions and perceptions of sexuality and disability. In addition to academic papers, we are particularly interested in opening up a space for the discussion of personal experiences of disability and sexuality and the role of sex workers, community programs and the work of sex educators. Inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary perspectives are sought on sexuality and disability, including cross-cultural and transcultural perspectives. Non-traditional presentations are encouraged including workshops, performances and round table discussions.

Papers, presentations, workshops and pre-formed panels are also invited on any of the following themes:

1. Representations of Disability and Sexuality

  • Visual images: painting, photography, advertising
  • Moving images: television, film, video, theatre, performance art
  • Music and disability: music videos, groups, artists
  • Narratives of disability: poetry, biography, autobiography, fiction and non-fiction

2. Desire and Disability

  • The fetishization of disability
  • Normative/Non-normative desires
  • Voyeurism and disability
  • Eroticism and disability
  • Disability and the politics of disgust
  • Dating and disability

3. Gender and Disability

  • Feminism and disability politics
  • Femininity and Masculinity and disability
  • Gender, class and disability
  • Body image and disability

4. Sexualities of Disability

  • Queer, trans, and other non-normative sexualities
  • Disabilities and sexualities
  • Aging and sexuality
  • Appropriate versus inappropriate expressions of sexuality

5. Difference and Disability

  • Visible/invisible disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Mental health issues including depression
  • Ethnicity, sexuality and disability

6. Sex Work and Disability

  • Sex educators
  • Sex workers
  • Community programs
  • State run programs

7. Law, Ethics, the State and Disability

  • Eugenics and state stationed sterilisation
  • Legislation, disability and sexuality
  • Ethics, desire and disability
  • Cultural conceptions of disability and sexuality
  • Sexual abuse and disability

Presentations will also be considered on any related theme.

In order to support and encourage interdisciplinarity engagement, it is our intention to create the possibility of starting dialogues between the parallel events running during this conference. Delegates are welcome to attend up to two sessions in each of the concurrent conferences. We also propose to produce cross-over sessions between two and possibly all three groups – and we welcome proposals which deal with the relationship between the experience of prison, and/or responsible and ethical living and/or disability and sexuality.

What to send: 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 6th December 2013. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 14th March 2014. 300 word abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; 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.

E-mails should be entitled: SD1 Abstract Submission.

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). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:

Colette Balmain:<

Rob Fisher:<

The conference is part of the Gender and Sexuality programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy 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, please visit:

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