Wednesday 25th March, 1-3, Arundel Building Room 10111, Sheffield Hallam University (more venue information here)
Slot 1: Kirsty Liddiard, University of Sheffield: “I’m a lie-back-and-think-of-England type of man”: Imagining the Posthuman Dis/sexual Subject.
Abstract: In this talk, I critically imagine the possibilities of a posthuman disabled sexual subject (Braidotti 2013). In rejecting the routine linear interconnectedness of sex/uality and “humanness” in Western, dis/ableist, neoliberal, capitalist cultures, I suggest that disabled/Crip sexualities – which can be unquestionably non-normative, inter/dependent, radically relational (e.g. sexual support), collaborative, collective, queered, unpredictable, leaky, and technologised and/or cyborg – are already resolutely and transgressively posthuman.
Yet, I purposefully complicate this transformative imagining by positioning it within the context of disabled people’s lived experiences of sexual and intimate life. Telling their own intimate and intricate sexual stories, disabled people forcefully asserted a (naturalised) sexual subjectivity and made claims only for normative sexual citizenship, locating their rights, access, agency and embodied experiences of sex/uality as central to their humanness (Liddiard 2012, 2013). Desiring (and labouring towards) a normalised, autonomous, independent, and bounded sexual reality was a viable (but precarious) means through which to humanise the self and served, for some, to gain entry into mainstream sexual cultures. Such labours were purposeful, then, towards feeling and enacting “human” in the context of lives and selves consistently devalued and dehumanised.
Utilising Goodley and Runswick-Cole’s (forthcoming: pagination unknown) recent articulation of the dis/human position, through which it becomes possible to ‘recognise the norm, the pragmatic and political value of claiming the norm’ while always seeking to disrupt and contest it, I conclude by calling for what I call the Dis/sexual. To do so, I locate the very dis/human moments in disabled people’s sexual stories, sketching out the dis/sexual as a transformative space through which disabled/Crip subjects can claim their humanness through conventional modes of sex/uality and gender, yet simultaneously defy, crip and exceed such boundaries.