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Gender and Sexuality in European (Geo)Politics

Online Lecture Series

The challenges facing the European Union today are multiple, with the Covid-19 pandemic both heightening existing forms of inequality and exclusion, as well as serving to radicalize political debates. This virtual seminar series will discuss how these contemporary challenges can be more fully understood by engaging with feminist and intersectional scholarship, drawing attention to the key role of gender and sexuality in shaping political debates and new and old forms of discrimination.

Collaboration between ACES Themes ‘Europe in the World’ and ‘Diverse Europe’

Series coordinator: Hanna L. Muehlenhoff

Gender has become a key battle ground for populist forces across Europe, most visibly in countries such as Hungary and Poland that have wielded the rubric of ‘anti-genderism’ to mobilize against the European Union. Questions of gender and sexuality also increasingly mark the shaping of migration policy and attitudes towards migrants, represented by populist forces across the EU as a ‘demographic threat’. At the same time, the pandemic has further exacerbated underlying gendered inequalities of European societies, and, as such, has made them highly visible.

The European Commission’s recent emphasis on gender and intersectionality in both internal and external policy could be read as a response to those developments. Nevertheless, such a positioning might simply serve to polarise the debate further, presenting the EU as a civilized and ‘civilising’ force to a variety of ‘underdeveloped’ Others (both beyond and within the Union’s borders), while not living up to its own values internally. Moreover, LGBT norms can also be hijacked by populists as identity markers of ‘European belonging’, serving not to include but rather exclude ‘intolerant’ Others.  

This series brings together practitioners and scholars from different disciplines engaging both in conceptual and theoretical debates around feminist and intersectional theory, as well as discussing concrete policy debates linked to the role of gender, sexuality and intersectionality. The events will focus on topics including: projections of (racialized) femininities and masculinities in European identity, discourses and practices; gender and populism in Europe; gender and race in migration policy; gender equality in the EU, and the theory and practice of feminist foreign policy in the European context.

You can register for a special newsletter to get updated when new events are organised, published on YouTube or to share background material. 

In Focus: A Feminist EU in the World

This ‘In Focus’  subseries zooms in on the European Union’s ambitions to become a feminist or gender actor in the world. The world faces increasing levels of poverty and inequality, rising militarism, protracted conflicts, and a pressing climate crisis. Women are affected disproportionately by these harms, while their involvement in decision-making processes to overcome these problems is marginalized at best. In fact, recent years have seen a massive encroachment on the rights of women, and marginalized groups, as well as backlash against feminist, human rights and climate justice activism. Feminist activists, scholars and policy-makers have long argued that there can be no peace and that these challenges cannot and should not be tackled without an intersectional feminist approach. In this series, we discuss such a feminist approach in relation to the EU’s external action.       

Series coordinators:

Pola Cebulak: Humanities Faculty, Department of European Studies and Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies

Hanna L. Muehlenhoff: Humanities Faculty, Department of European Studies and Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies

Lara Talsma: Law Faculty, Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL) and the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG)

Upcoming Events

  • Building Feminist Peace: What way forward for the EU?

    18 May 2021

    14.00 – 15.30 CET (tbc)

    The European Union is committed  to implementing UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Its Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security is more ambitious than previous proposals. Yet, how do feminist visions of peace figure in the EU’s peacebuilding? How to assess the role of the new European Peace Facility from a feminist perspective? How can international actors, such as the EU, practice peacebuilding in feminist, intersectional and more relational ways? In this panel, scholars, practitioners and activists discuss what feminist peace entails in relation to the role of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, women’s peace activism, the politics of knowledge production and the specific role of the EU.


    Laura Davis, Senior Associate for Gender, Peace and Security (GPS) at European Peacebuilding Liaison Office

    Gina Heathcote, Professor at School of Law, SOAS University of London

    Helen Kezi-Nwoha, Executive Director of Women’s International Peace Centre, Uganda

Recorded Events

  • Risk analysis as political.

    Risk analysis as political. How gender and race matter in the constitution of crisis in EU border management

    • 27 October 2020, 1200-1300
    • Speaker: Saskia Stachowitsch (University of Vienna)
    • Chair: Hanna L Muehlenhoff

    Watch here

  • In Focus: Slipping off or turning the tide?

    19 November 2020, 1600-1700

    Gender Equality in EU external relations in times of crisis (Special Issue Launch)

    This was the second event of the Gender and Sexuality Lecture Series with a special focus on 'A Feminist EU in the World?'. During this event their is a special focus on the Special Issue in Political Studies Review 18(3) edited by Hanna L. Muehlenhoff (UvA), Anna van der Vleuten (Radboud University Nijmegen) and Natalie Welfens (UvA).

    Speakers: Toni Haastrup (University of Stirling), Gülay Çağlar (FU Berlin), and Anna van der Vleuten (Radboud University Nijmegen)

     Chair: Hanna L. Muehlenhoff and Natalie Welfens

    Read More 

  • Feminist Framing of Europeanisation: Gender Equality Policies in Turkey and the EU

    How can we rethink the theory and practice of Europeanisation from a feminist perspective? This event discusses the recently published edited collection ‘Feminist Framing of Europeanisation’ (with Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) which explores the Europeanisation of gender policies and addresses theoretical challenges surrounding the EU’s impact on domestic politics.

    Speakers: Rahime Süleymanoğlu-Kürüm, F. Melis Cin

    Chair: Beste İşleyen, Department of Political Science, UvA

    Discussant: Hanna L. Muehlenhoff, Department of European Studies, UvA

  • Gender and Sexuality Studies Under Attack in Central-Eastern Europe

    What are the historical, political, social and cultural sources of the attacks on Gender and Sexuality Studies in Central-Eastern Europe? Are they local or rather fueled by transnational conservative movements? What are possible strategies and solidarities (local and global) to counteract them?



    Tomasz Basiuk, Agnieszka Kościańska & Hadley Z. Renkin 
    Moderation: Linda Duits

    Read More

  • In Focus: A Feminist EU in the World? - A feminist foreign policy for the European Union?

    This is the second event in the In Focus Series: A Feminist EU in the World? During this event Hannah Neumann, MEP, Roberta Guerrina and Michelle Pace will explore what a Feminist Foreign Policy for the EU could or should look like, reflect upon how current developments in EU foreign and security policy speak to the idea of a Feminist Foreign Policy and discuss its potentials and pitfalls.

    Speakers: Hannah Neuman, Roberta Guerrina and Michelle Pace

    Chair: Hanna L. Muehlenhoff