Gender, sexualities and transgressive cities

Alan Mabin, Bradley Rink, and Tamara Shefer

In myriad forms, everyday as well as long term gendered practices and transgressive sexualities challenge both urban governmental regulation and our understandings of city space and change. At RC21 2016, we propose to create space to reflect across multiple sites on how reconfigurations of gender and sexualities challenge social norms and regulatory forms in the city. We imagine consideration of how boundaries of undesirability with respect to sexualities and genders are shifting; and implications of such shifts for city configurations in the future. Through careful and sensitive examination of hidden spaces and practices, as well as public performances and de/reterritorialisation, we envisage learning from inversions and subversions of the normative.

We invite contributions that engage with widespread intellectual and political contest around gender and sexualities in the city. From radically different approaches to sex work, emphasizing connection and boundary making, through practices of regulation (cf. Caviglia 2013), through recompositions and quarterings of urban space (Rink 2015), to examinations of mobilities and diverse perceptions of cities through prisms of gender and sexuality (cf Nash & Gorman-Murray 2014) and beyond, we anticipate vigorous debate on past, present and future cities and their malleable social forms.

There is of course much space for addressing oppressions and violences associated with sexualities and gender in the transgressive city, yet at the same time we are interested to attract contributions that explore dimensions of agency, pleasure and alternate opportunities, in order to challenge regulation, control, violence and oppressive urban practices as well as to open new ways of being in the city through transgression, thereby exploring how such practices create new landscapes of city experience and ways of moving through the city (for example Shefer et. al. 2011).

We anticipate contributions that raise questions of what it means to transgress, what that means for the city, what that means in terms of new gendered roles and perhaps new sexualities, across diverse cities in the world, collectively engaging and opening discussion. Diverse conceptual approaches, stretching at least from Chicago School studies of sexualities (cf. Heap 2003) through materialist, materialist feminist and other current conceptualisations such as the affective turn and posthumanism, will be welcome.


Caviglia, Lisa 2013 Sex [at] work in Kathmandu: discourses around sexuality, self perception and society, Doctoral dissertation, University of Heidelberg, Germany

Heap, Chad 2003 The City as a Sexual Laboratory: The Queer Heritage of the Chicago School Qualitative Sociology, Vol. 26, No. 4, Winter

Nash, C. J., & Gorman‐Murray, A. 2014. LGBT neighbourhoods and ‘new mobilities’: Towards understanding transformations in sexual and gendered urban landscapes. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38 (3), 756-772.

Rink, Bradley 2015 Quartering the City in Discourse and Bricks: Articulating Urban Change in a South African Enclave Urban Forum DOI 10.1007/s12132-015-9270-8 (November)

Shefer, Tamara; Anna Strebel, Cheryl Potgieter & Claire Wagner 2011 ‘Sometimes taxi men are rough..’: Young women’s experiences of the risks of being a ‘taxi queen’, African Safety Promotion Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2, 1-24