Events & Seminars 2021

The Sociology Seminar Series is supported by the MacFie Bequest, named after Professor Alec MacFie, Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at the University from 1945 to 1958.

Any enquiries about the seminar series and zoom links please contact Tim Winzler

All seminars will take place on a Wednesday at 12 noon. 

3 November 2021 Krzysztof Jankowski, University of Glasgow

'Manifestations of the Global: explorations on two sites'

Abstract: In this seminar Krzysztof draws on a ‘flow and territory’ approach to discuss manifestations of the global in two retail sites: a global shopping mall and a night-time flea market. The nature of urbanization is an integral and evolving factor in the everyday life of city-dwellers, however the local forms of global-urban space remains opaque. This seminar will discuss the retail flows of two very different but intimately linked locations, one with flows of pristine goods from around the world, and the other with flows of recovered garbage from the streets. While each retail site is defined by transnational connection, their respective forms are products of different relationships to global connection. As such, the capability to make connections and redefine global flows of retail goods becomes integral to understand the form of the urban constituting each retail site. Where the shopping mall can delineate the global to just the ‘world’s best’, the flea market is overwhelmed by the global flows of consumer excess. Through a focus on just retail goods, this seminar explores the potential of post-humanist theory and also the possibilities and demerits of a ‘sociology without people’.

Bio: Krzysztof attained an MPhil in Sociology from The University of Hong Kong. Research from that project has been published in Mobilities, Population, Space and Place, and The Sociological Review exploring global-mobile society and identities. He is currently a PhD student at The University of Glasgow, where he is researching at the intersection of employment precarity, adulthood, and urban sociology.

8 December 2021 Vrushali Patil, Florida International University

'The Special Oriental Vice, the Savage Vice, and the Sexual Furor: Racial-Imperial Webs and the Invention of ‘Modern’ Sexuality'

Abstract: Given the dense historic entanglements between the racial, imperial, and sexual--and especially the racialized character of heteronormativity--in this talk I consider the question of how sexuality becomes constituted as a category distinct from the racial and the imperial.  In particular, I consider the discursive production of the category of sexuality through the production of the category of the non-normative sexual subject, or “the homosexual,” by canonical sexology.  Canonical sexology considered such questions toward the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century—when formal colonialism was at its height.  Employing what I call a multi-scalar webbed connectivities framework, I examine canonical sexological texts by the German writers Karl Ulrichs and Richard Krafft-Ebing, the US writer James Kiernan, and the British writer Havelock Ellis.  I show that these writers—all positioned in various ways within imperial whiteness—perform distinct yet aligned race-work at different scales.  That is, while they racialize the non-normative sexual subject at the scale of the white nation, they whiten this subject at the scale of empire.  This distinct yet aligned race-work makes space for the non-normative sexual subject within whiteness while maintaining racialized heteronormativity. I argue that the discursive constitution of this subject (and through this subject of sexuality itself) as a distinct domain of identity, knowledge, and politics, thus, is produced within particular racial and imperial exigencies. 

Bio: Vrushali Patil is Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University.  She writes and teaches at the intersection of gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial/decolonial studies, and historical sociology.  She has published in Ethnic and Racial Studies; Sociological Theory; Signs; Theory and Society; Gender & Society; Journal of Historical Sociology; Annals of Tourism Research; Tourism Geographies, Comparative Studies in Society and History; and Sex Roles, among other journals. Her forthcoming book is titled Webbed Connectivities: The Imperial Sociology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality (2022, University of Minnesota Press).   


15 December 2021 Karen Cuthbert, University of Glasgow


'Living Gender in Diverse Times: Generation Z Conceptualising ‘Sex’ and ‘Gender’'

Abstract: The past decade has seen significant developments (but also re-entrenchments and backlashes) in terms of how gender and gender diversity are understood, legislated, and practiced in the UK. Young people in particular are seen to be imbricated in these shifts. Whether heralded and celebrated as harbingers of a ‘gender revolution’ or seen as vulnerable and in need of protection from the perceived dangers of ‘gender ideology’, young people constitute flashpoints in often polarised and binary debates.

The Living Gender in Diverse Times project was an attempt to cut beyond much of this noise, and empirically investigate how young people aged 16-24 (aka Generation Z) in the UK were experiencing, understanding, and responding to such a rapidly changed gendered landscape. Drawing on qualitative data from focus groups and interviews with 160 young people of varying genders and sexualities, I focus on a particular finding of the project – the ways in which young people conceptualised and made sense of the very categories of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. The paper traces the extraordinary literacies young people showed with regard to these two categories of fundamental sociological significance, discussing how the ontological boundaries of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ were stated, affirmed (and sometimes contested); how these were understood through the framework of temporality and generation; and the (very particular) ways in which gender was understood to be ‘socially constructed’. The paper will examine the ways in which young people navigated the broader discursive currents available to them, exploring possible changes but also continuities.

Bio: Karen Cuthbert is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow, with interests in genders, sexualities, youth and qualitative methods. Until recently, they were a Research Fellow on the Living Gender in Diverse Times project at the University of Leeds/Sheffield, which explored how young people in the UK are making sense of gender in the context of a rapidly-shifting and fast-proliferating discursive terrain. They have also researched and published on the intersections of youth, queerness, and religiosity, and their ongoing scholarship concerns “non-sexualities” (asexualities, sexual abstinence, celibacies), and particularly the ‘gendering’ of these, both discursively and experientially.