Transnational Network for Sexuality, Race and Religion Researchers and Civil Society Actors

Lead Research Organisation: University of Kent
Department Name: Kent Law School

Abstract

This transnational initiative seeks to transform an informal network between scholars and practitioners that is currently at an early stage into a formal, active and productive international network. The network aims to connect academic researchers and civil society experts working on the interplay of sexuality, race and religion to further understanding of this area. The network members will therefore be able to exchange knowledge and form collaborations to work on common and transnational aspects of their work. This will be facilitated through opportunities provided by the Network including one face to face and three additional virtual meetings, as well as via electronic means including an interactive website (a private members area for discussion) and a moderated e-list.

The network members will share expertise from their specific localities to extend the mapping of local and transnational instances of exclusion based on sexuality, race and religion that coincide with formations of nationalism. In doing so it will develop the state of the art in relation to understanding the ways in which relations between changing notions of gender and sexual identities, racism and nationalism in different national and cultural contexts can operate. The Network Project will document this work and in particular successful strategies that have been employed in responding to such events by publishing papers presented at the International workshop to be held at Oxford Brookes in July 2012 in an edited collection (Routledge, 2013), as well as within a co-authored journal article and a 25-page jargon free report aimed at practioners working in relevant social policy fields. The network's website will act as a key networking tool where participants can share their local experiences, communicate research ideas, make comments and obtain feedback on each other's work, develop joint research proposals, and discuss differences and convergences across local contexts. It is therefore an important means by which to facilitate effective and meaningful knowledge exchange between academics (including early career scholars) from a wide range of disciplines, and civil society actors including lawyers and other local practitioners working on these issues.

The project will also enable already initiated collaborative work to be strengthened through one face to face workshop to be hosted at Oxford Brookes University in July 2012, as well as through a series of virtual meetings (for example, using skype). The virtual meetings will work towards the face to face meeting examining a number of specific issues and topics. These will include how to sustain and strengthen transnational collaboration with a plurality of civil society actors and academics. We will also facilitate a conversation between civil society actors working in the Global South to discuss a number of issues including the impact of organisations located in the Global North on their work. Another theme will be how to respond to the emergence of far right organisations in European contexts (for example, the English Defence League in the UK) and their impact on civil society actors working in the field of sexuality, race and religion and multiple exclusions. These discussions will also be published in the Network's edited collection. In addition, the networks developed through the workshop and meetings will be sustained and supported through the updated website which will also feature a directory of academics and civil society actors who are members of the network. This will be an important resource for policy makers and the wider public globally to be able to easily locate and access different researchers and civil society actors working in the field of sexuality, race and religion. This transnational network is unique in bringing together constituent members working on these issues.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research:

The work of the Transnational Network for Sexuality, Race and Religion Researchers and Civil Society Actors will increase the effectiveness of law, policy and public services in the national contexts within which the various Network members work. The immediate beneficiaries are the Network members themselves and the local, national and international organisations for which they work or that they are involved with. In the long term, this will benefit law and policy makers as well as service providers in the UK and other national contexts, which in turn benefits the wider public. UK beneficiaries include the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and government departments such as the Equalities Office. Further details and examples are mentioned below.

How will they benefit from this research:

An immediate benefit will result from The Network will making recommendations and providing expert knowledge based on intersectional perspectives on sexuality, religion and race. In the UK and Euro-Atlantic context this will facilitate law and policy making on equalities and discrimination issues. In the longer term it will also facilitate raising awareness amongst the wider public by enhancing understandings of diverse sexual identities that are not manifested in the predominant western cultural model of being gay. As such, the Network's work contributes to the nation's culture around issues of sexuality, race and religion as well as the health of people experiencing marginalisation as a result of these factors.

The Network will also raise awareness of the impact of UK government and other organisations on international developments, particularly in the global south. For example, in the African context, members of the Network highlighted how the situation for local civil society actors can be made more difficult as a result of European policies, including threats to withdraw aid and/or other sanctions in response to laws on homosexuality. A recent example is in Malawi where Western interventions raised concerns about who has the power to influence the political and legal agenda on issues of sexuality in African countries without an understanding of how this affects local civil society work on the ground.

Non UK members of the Network will feed the findings, expertise and skills gained from the network into their national and local policy organisations. Some examples include:
- In the Dutch context, the network will be working directly with the diversity manager of Movisie, a Dutch policy and expertise centre that advises government institutions and supports municipalities and other local and regional public bodies on citizenship participation, including a specific project on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.
- In the French context, network members such as Lesbiennes of Colour (LOC) will continue to intervene in debates surrounding the banning of the headscarf and burkah in France and its social impact on French
Muslims. LOC also works on issues of gay racism fuelled by the use of nationalist symbols and rhetoric in their work including the Paris gay pride event.

In addition staff working on this project including both the Principal and Co-Investigators as well as the Project Administrator (PhD student) will develop a number of research and professional skills that could apply in all employment sectors. For example, the project administrator will be working on the organisation of the network meetings as well as on building the website resources and the final 25 page report. There will also be a number of other PhD students and other network members who will be developing various skills through being involved in the project (see further case for support and Pathways to Impact attachments).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The Decolonizing Sexualities Network (DSN) was first established at a transnational workshop held in Berlin in 2010. It brought together scholars, activists and civil society practitioners working on the diverse ways in which sexuality can converge with religious and racial identities to produce multiple exclusions and socio-economic disadvantage as well as political marginalisation.

The overall aim of the DSN has been to develop links and conversations between various constituencies working across the themes of the network. As part of this overall aim, we have seen it as essential to continue re-mapping some of the specifically local issues as well as the common ones affecting us all transnationally. As a result the DSN has contributed knowledge on how sexuality, race and religion intersect within state law and policy as well as within civil society developments in different national settings. DSN members have shared knowledge and experience from their localities with each other and for wider policy and public dissemination through the main activities including: 1) A series of on-line discussions examining topics falling under two broad themes: Re-mapping the urgent questions in local contexts; and Transnational QPOC Conversations across the Global South and across Europe; 2) A two-day invitee-only international workshop and a further roundtable event and book launch which took place in the UK in July and December 2013.
Exploitation Route We have various resources available on the website including:
- a comprehensive bibliography of literature in the field
- links to member organisations and their work
- links to events
- podcasts to speakers from DSN events as well as others

This resource can be used by members of our various constituents and stakeholders as well as policy-makers and researchers in the field.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.decolonizingsexualities.org
 
Description The forthcoming edited collection includes work from non-fiction writers including poets who have been actively promoting their work at open public cultural events. This has raised awareness of the crosscutting issues, local and transnational of complex identities of often marginalised sexual, racial and religious minorities.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description DSN ROUNDTABLE EVENT AND QUEER AFRICAN READER BOOK LAUNCH 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The roundtable and readings from the book launched was followed by a question and discussion time as well as over refreshments at the end of the event. There was a very lively and deeply felt discussion and round of questions from the audience which clearly inspired empathy, belonging and shared vision as well as more questions and networking.

The event was a very successful networking opportunity from a wide range of stakeholders that went beyond the membership of the network. This has led to work collaborations as well as sharing of information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.decolonizingsexualities.org/159-2/