Cripping Intimacies, Disrupting Knowledge Regimes: Challenges to Gender Studies Theory and Research


Although the research field of disability and sexuality studies has become rather wellestablished in the recent decade, it is still largely isolated from theory development in gender studies. Likewise, broader feminist advocacy and activism have not readily included aspects of disability or accessibility. At the same time, there are many commonalities between the fields, for instance norm-critical approaches and working against discrimination. The disability rights slogan ‘Nothing about us without us’ also challenges the traditional hierarchy in research processes and fundamentally questions who is to decide what to study, how and why. In this panel we present research that has used various qualitative methods to explore experiences of people who are labelled as ‘other’ due to non-normative bodies and/or minds. We explore their wishes and needs in the realm of sexuality, gender, sexual health and sexual identity. The aim of the studies has been to challenge the widely held presumptions about disabled and older people as lacking sexual desires and identities, and to rethink gendered and sexual subjectivity and citizenship from the outset of disability.


Julia Bahner is Assistant professor in the School of Social Work, Lund University, Sweden. Her current project ‘Sexuality – An Access Issues’ explores barriers to sexual expression and sexual health and well-being among people with various disabilities and chronic illnesses. Using intersectionality as an analytical tool is needed both to understand the heterogeneous phenomenon of a certain disability, as well as the common experience of a marginalized position of most disabled people. Bahner’s work thereby combines central facets of both Gender studies and Disability studies. It is also concerned with human rights in general, and sexual rights and disability rights in particular, and how policy and practice can better cater to often unmet needs in this realm (see Bahner 2020, Routledge).

Linn Sandberg is Associate professor in Gender Studies, Södertörn University, Sweden. In her work Sandberg studies gender, sexuality, embodiment, ageing and later life, and combines feminist and queer studies with critical cultural gerontology. More recently Sandberg has sought to bring gender studies together with dementia studies, and in her last research project she explored gender, sexuality and intimacy among heterosexual couples where one partner was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Sandberg is the founder of the Critical dementia network, an international network of academics and researchers with a shared interest in critical approaches to dementia. Currently she is authoring and co-editing a forthcoming volume introducing critical dementia studies, including feminist, crip and queer approaches to dementia, to be published by Routledge.

Becky Nelson is a PhD student at Social Medicine and Global Health, Lund University. Becky’s research area is on the use of Peer led Sex Education for and by people with intellectual disabilities in Sweden. Her research explores the ways in which Swedish organizations have used peer led methods or techniques to work with various aspects of sexual and reproductive health and rights. The research aims to not only answer important questions for sexual health interventions, but also provide a methodological alternative to research which is otherwise inaccessible to people with intellectual disabilities. Her work thereby poses important feminist onthological questions related to subjectivity, knowledge production and hierarchies in education and sexual rights activism.

Published Sep. 21, 2021 1:19 PM - Last modified Sep. 21, 2021 1:19 PM