The study of gender and sexuality is bound up, historically, with the emergence of second-wave feminism and of sexual liberation movements in the post war period. These activist origins produced one of the key elements that has marked the fields of gender and sexuality ever since: the highly productive proximity to social and political movements. The political urgency of the theoretical tasks activists set for themselves also encouraged forms of interdisciplinary encounters from the very start, and these continue to mark the fields in distinctive ways as well. To pursue political aims through academic engagement has also posed specific challenges regarding the scientific construction of the object of study and the kind of distance that construction demands. This challenge and its historical evolution will be one of the themes that winds its way through discussion in our gender and sexuality seminar.
The seminar readings and discussions will be fruitful not only for those who work directly with issues of gender and sexuality fields but also for researchers who aim to develop a critical understanding about how different disciplines in the human and social sciences are structured and influenced by social and political values at specific times and places, values which then become embedded in academic work.