Conference Agenda

Panel 307: UACES Research Network Panel: Gender, Sexuality and Intersectionality in Europe
Monday, 02/Sep/2019:
3:00pm - 4:30pm

Session Chair: Roberta Guerrina, University of Surrey
Location: Room 12.06


UACES Research Network Panel: Gender, Sexuality and Intersectionality in Europe

Chair(s): Roberta Guerrina (University of Surrey)

This panel brings together papers which explore issues around gender, sexuality and intersectionality in Europe. The contributions consider what pushback in some member states on these issues means, including for the EU's role as a normative power. They consider whether this disjuncture is a means to respond to an identity crisis by the EU, and if so if and how this undermines the EU's role.


Presentations of the Symposium


The Six-Pack and the Fortress: Gender and Race in European Economic Governance

Muireann O'Dwyer
University of Warwick

As the governance regime established in the wake of the crises of 2008 onwards has become normalised, substantial research has documented the gendered and racialised inequalities perpetuated by it. Previous work has also highlighted the role played by gender in legitimising the policy programme of austerity and competitiveness led growth. This paper situates such discussions in the broader context of a crisis-stricken EU, highlighting the connection between economic governance and lethal border policies, the rise of xenophobic and misogynist parties, and backsliding on commitments to gender equality.

The paper demonstrates a feminist political economy approach to European Economic Governance and examines the values which underpin this policy area. It shows how expectations about the economy are shaped by inequalities and by a historic erasure of the roles played by race and gender in the construction of the European economy. The paper offers an intersectional analysis of an area currently under-analysed from such perspectives, and it speaks to the broader debates about legitimacy in both economic governance and the broader EU.


The Strategic Use of the Subsidiarity Argument in Battles around Complex Gender Equality

Anna Van der Vleuten1, Petra Ahrens2
1Institute for Managment Research, Radboud University, 2University of Antwerp

"Gender equality and intersectionality have become a new battleground in supranational European Union politics. So-called anti-feminists and anti-gender activists attack gender equality policies and gender studies with the objective of re-installing essentializing and naturalizing ideas of gender roles, sexual identities, and gender identities. The role of the EU in steering social progress and barring gender inequalities is continuously contested, as are actors promoting gender equality. Likewise, the system of multi-level-governance and the norm of subsidiarity shapes which gender equality policies are decided where, with the supranational institutions given an important yet not sole responsibility.

In this paper, we examine recent debates in the EU on gender studies and complex gender equality questions and ask how the norm of subsidiarity shapes debates and decisions. More specifically, we investigate the supranational debates around the elimination of gender studies in Hungary and various attempts in other member states to cut funding, support and academic recognition for gender studies. We take the European Parliament as one major arena and analyse recent committee debates of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs (LIBE) and how actors pull the subsidiarity card in a discursive move to avoid effective actions against actors attacking gender equality on member state level. We also explore, which (if any) role gender equality plays in EP discussions on triggering article 7 for breach of rule of law by Poland and Hungary."


The Mobilization of Gender in the German Radical Right: a Critical Frame Analysis of ‘Gender Mainstreaming’ in the Political Communication of the Alternative für Deutschland

Sabrina Paillé, Heather MacRae
York University

Building on recent literatures on transnational ‘anti-gender’ mobilizations and the relationship between gender and populism in Europe, this paper examines the strategic use of gender by right-wing populist actors in Germany as a way of challenging mainstream politics in multiple levels of governance and across institutional settings. Gender mainstreaming is conventionally understood as a public policy strategy designed to promote equality between women and men and a sensitivity to gender-related issues across policy areas. However, the Alternativ für Deutschland (AfD) represents gender mainstreaming as a pervasive ‘ideology’ that threatens to undermine traditional gender roles, family models, the ‘natural’ differences between the sexes, and to a degree, even the sovereignty of the nation. In this paper, we apply a Critical Frame Analysis to a corpus of electoral platforms, political tracts, and media interventions in order to assess the ways in which the AfD speaks about gender mainstreaming and how this travels across levels of governance. We consider the ways in which the AfD connects “gender” as an ideology and gender mainstreaming in particular, to various levels of governance, including the local, subnational, national and European. and the implications of this for moving political agendas further to the right.


EU’s Sexual Exceptionalism and LGBT Equality Promotion: Crises and Shifting Othering Mechanisms in the Enlargement Strategy

Koen Slootmaeckers
City, University of London

To what extent is the EU’s ‘sexual exceptionalism’ a response to deal with some kind of identity crisis? And, how has the promotion the EU’s LGBT-friendly identity contributed to a new phase in its experienced crisis? These are the questions that underpin this paper which seeks to investigate how the EU has emerged as a self-declared beacon of LGBT-friendliness and how this is part of a wider agenda of constantly defining and redefining the borders of the European polity. Taking a relational approach, the paper conceptualises and examines the Othering processes that are embedded within the EU enlargement process to highlight the political nature of what is often described as a technocratic process. By doing so, it also shows how continuities and changes in the enlargement process, as a response to experienced crises, have contributed to the current LGBT-friendly identity. Through exploring the triangulation of the EU enlargement process, Othering processes, and crises, it is argued that 1) the use of LGBT rights as a measure of Europeanness is based on a longer tradition of defining the EU’s symbolic boundaries, but that 2) it is in perceived moments of crisis that the EU redraws and strengthens the boundaries between the Self and the different type of Others through changing combinations of Othering mechanisms. Finally, the paper also argues that LGBT rights promotion is not only a tool in constructing the EU’s identity, but also a source of a persistent identity crisis, as is shown by the rise anti-gender politics.