Public Talk by Prof. Davina Cooper “A Very Binary Drama: the Conceptual Struggle For Gender´s Future”

We are happy to welcome you to the Public Talk “A Very Binary Drama: the Conceptual Struggle For Gender´s Future” by a fab speaker Professor Davina Cooper (King´s College, London) and a fab discussant Professor Tuija Pulkkinen (Helsinki University)

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The Talk will be held at Think Corner, Helsinki University (Yliopistonkatu 4), 27th of March (Wednesday) from 4pm to 6 pm

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The talk by Professor Davina Cooper (King’s College, London) explores how change is imagined and enacted in relation to gender’s conceptual future. Drawing on utopian thinking, the talk explores the challenge of forging gender’s multiple conceptual futures.
Discussant: Tuija Pulkkinen, Professor of Gender Studies from the University of Helsinki.
Davina Cooper’s jumping off point is the contemporary British struggle over the categories of gender (and sex) and how such categories should be determined in law and public policy, as gender transitioning, new a-gendered and “non-binary” identities, and feminist politics structure the current terms of debate.
The talk explores the conceptual lines of friction and the part institutional arenas have played in shaping the dispute.
In its second half, it turns to the question of conceptual tasks. Prefiguring, destabilising, and critiquing gender are all oriented to forging a different future for gender, but they seem to rely on different conceptions of what gender means and involves.
Can these different conceptions of gender relate, and rub against each other, in ways that are not simply adversarial but also fruitful?
And can statutory law reform and public policy engage with conceptions of gender in more plural ways?

Speakers Info:

* Professor Davina Cooper, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London, is a research professor in law and political theory at Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London.

She is an interdisciplinary scholar, whose work focuses on concepts, transformative politics, experimental communities and state activism.

She is currently directing an ESRC funded research project on the Future of Legal Gender – a prefigurative feminist law reform initiative. Her books include Challenging Diversity: Rethinking Equality and the Value of Difference (CUP, 2004); Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces (Duke 2014) and Feeling like a State: Desire, Denial and the Recasting of Authority (Duke, 2019). From 2004-2009, she directed the AHRC Research Centre in Law, Gender and Sexuality (based at the universities of Kent, Keele and Westminster); from 2000-2003, she was Research Dean for the Social Science Faculty at Keele.

She has been a specialist advisor to the Education and Employment Parliamentary Select Committee, a magistrate and a local London councillor.

Her blog ‘Social Politics and stuff’ is available here:

* Professor Tuija Pulkkinen:

She is currently working as Professor of Gender Studies at the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki (2008–). During 2011-2015 she acted as Academy Professor of the Academy of Finland leading the academy professor project Philosophy and Politics in Feminist Theory. Previously, she has worked for five years as Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Jyväskylä where she also had a permanent position as a professor of Political Theory.

For the past ten years she has been actively leading cross-generational research teams: she was a vice leader of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Political Thought and Conceptual Change (2006-2011), and presently she works together with early career scholars within the Politics of Philosophy and Gender (PPhiG) research team within which they explore various topics of feminist thought, always with a political accent.

Her areas of specialization include
* feminist theory and philosophy
* political thought
* history of concepts

She is a multidisciplinary scholar, originally trained in the areas of philosophy, history, and politics, with feminist and queer interests. She started as a scholar of Hegel and of political theory (Valtio ja vapaus [The State and Freedom/Liberty], 1989), and has since studied closely many other thinkers and texts, among them Jean-Francois Lyotard, Hannah Arendt, Judith Butler and Jacques Derrida. In her early career she worked on the icon of Finnish nineteenth century nationalist thought, the Hegelian philosopher J.V. Snellman. Since that time she has been interested in the patterns of political thought and democratic theory. She have also studied the history of political concepts, such as the concept valtio (the State) in Finnish.

In Finland she was among those with an early interest in the 20th century French philosophy (Derrida, Foucault), and keen on developing postmodern anti-foundational thought. She was internationally among the first to take serious interest in Judith Butler’s work. She published on this work in the early 1990s, and later also co-translated Butler’s Gender Trouble into Finnish.

Her current research continues and develops further the work she conducted in her academy professor’s project Philosophy and Politics in Feminist Theory (2011-2015) concentrating on contemporary feminist theory. In her own work she studies the main figures of current feminist theory, such as Luce Irigaray, Elizabeth Grosz, Judith Butler, Rosi Braidotti, and Adriana Cavarero with an approach that she calls ‘politics of philosophy’. She pays attention to the scholars’ attachments to different philosophical traditions, the ensuing conceptual conflicts, and how these conflicts are textually played out. In addition to her own work the project funds the work of seven PPhiG team members for different periods of time.

She strongly values international contacts in her area of study.