Sex and the State


What are the parameters of “good” sexual citizenship?
How do we legally define “good” and “bad” sexual behaviour?
What ethical grounds are adopted to distinguish between good sex and bad sex in the Law?
How have former “sexual outlaws” challenged their exclusion and gained the status of full citizens?
How do we define and regulate sex crime and how do we seek to deter it?

These sorts of questions lie at the centre of this project, which explores the issue of sexual citizenship and its terms of belonging and exclusion. We wish to critically engage with the ways in which proper sexual citizenship, or “erotic civility”, and sex crime, or “erotic incivility”, have been articulated and regulated, in a manner that moves beyond simple disciplinary attentions to policy, social norms and values.

We also wish to make central the issue of Ethics and examine its role in guiding prohibitions, permissions and regulations of different sexual conduct and sexualities, to flesh out the complex ways states and social institutions regulate sexual conduct in contemporary societies. Specifically we aim to explore the ways in which the Law and other forms of regulation have been used to police and repress desire and pleasure, and the ways in which such prohibitions and regulations have been changed, subverted, challenged or transgressed.

The aim of the project is to generate inter- and trans-disciplinary work, collaborations and exchanges with a definite and critical engagement with both sex Law and norms in contemporary societies, and collectively represents innovative work for the betterment of sexual ethics in sexual conduct in society and more informed and just regulation of different sexualities.

The project will explore and assess a number of key core themes:

  • Sexual citizenship Sex Law and its Agencies
  • Ethics and the Principles of Sexual Conduct
  • Sex Law and the Regulation of Desire
  • Sex Crime and its Agents

Related themes will also be identified for development and exploration. It is anticipated that a series of associated research projects will develop out of our deliberations.