Writing for the “Sexuality & Gender Studies Now” series, Catherine Fosl reflects on her current work on the queer public…
To complement our “Sexuality & Gender Studies Now” series, we revisit this 2000 report by Diane di Mauro, then program director of the SSRC’s Sexuality Research Fellowship Program. Di Mauro summarizes the history of sexuality research in the United States and then explores how sexuality and gender research can address emerging (and still relevant) themes beyond their framing as “health” issues and in ways that engage the public and policymakers.
Melissa Bica’s contribution to the “Chancing the Storm” series engages crisis informatics—research on “how people use personal information and communication technology, including social media, to respond to disaster…and cope with uncertainty.” Bica draws on her research on the use of Twitter during the 2017 hurricane season as a tool for experts to communicate and for people to evaluate the uncertainty of information about potential risks of major storms. Using a human-centered data science approach, she analyzes, in both quantitative and context-specific ways, conversations on Twitter as they took place in real time—using the example of how people interpret “spaghetti plots” used by meteorologists to represent the degree and location of risk.
Combating Sexual Dysfunction through an Intervention Designed to Strengthen Brain-Body Communicationby Lori Brotto
In her contribution to our “Sexuality & Gender Studies Now” series, Lori Brotto examines how a person’s psychological-physical connection influences their sexual desire. She explains how, through her research on cervical cancer survivors, mindfulness meditation—a practice that helps the brain focus on the present moment—can help reconnect the body and brain to stimulate sexual desire. Through this approach, Brotto argues, many other people, from cancer survivors to sexual assault victims, can reconnect with their sexual desires.
Writing for our “Chancing the Storm” series, Robert Soden discusses the multiple meanings and uses of “uncertainty” in understanding floods and people’s responses to information about them. Building on extensive research on the design of floodplain maps in Colorado that declare some places, but not others, at risk, Soden argues the techno-science understanding of uncertainty that these maps represent is important but limiting. To supplement this perspective, he calls for imagining uncertainty as productive (“generative”) and as socially and politically structured (“systematically produced”), drawing on examples from the floodplain mapping project.
Sexual Consent Research and Affirmative Consent Policies: From Saturday Night Live to State Legislaturesby Zoë D. Peterson
In her contribution to our “Sexuality & Gender Studies Now” series, Zoe D. Peterson recounts how affirmative consent policies in college campuses went from being ridiculed as excessive in the early 1990s to a common college policy. Drawing on recent research on these policies, she presents the benefits and shortcomings of affirmative consent—promoting direct and active communication as well as overlooking coerced and uninformed consent, respectively. Peterson concludes with a call for more research on the effects of affirmative consent policies and on ways to address those who ignore the policies.
For the “Race & Capitalism” series, Jodi Melamed and Chandan Reddy argue that the notion of rights—a core component of liberalism—actually functions to underpin capitalist exploitation and racial exclusions. Their critical perspective looks back at the history of how differential rights have played this role, and how the process of “winning rights” by excluded groups can be repurposed to protect the interests of capital and limit extending new kinds of rights (e.g., for LGBTQ communities). In the current moment, they claim that the rights of minorities and the poor are principally the right to be “handled” and administered by powerful public and private interests.
Over the last few decades, antiabortion activists have used disability rights as a way to curtail women’s reproductive rights, particularly in Europe. For the “Sexuality and Gender Studies Now” series, Dagmar Herzog traces the histories of both reproductive and disability rights, looking back at how the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany have been used to advance and push back against LGBT, women's and disability rights.
Scott Gabriel Knowles opens our “Chancing the Storm” series with a reflection on how uncertainty—and an engagement with contingency and multicausality—has come to be embraced by historians, not least by those who study the history of disasters. Building on his own research on the history of engineering, Knowles emphasizes temporality and how disasters are both events and technological, environmental, and social processes that unfold slowly over time. Knowles also calls attention to space and scale, especially in the era of the Anthropocene, and how disaster history can make possible “a fusion of the analytical and the irrational—the graph and the story, the cost-benefit analysis and the social analysis” in ways that bring ostensibly opposing approaches together.