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School of Politics and International Relations

The Trans Allegory and International Studies: A Conversation with Professor Emma Heaney

When: Tuesday, March 16, 2021, 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Where: Zoom

How has the figure of the trans feminine shaped contemporary scholarship in the field of mobility, migration, and transnational politics? In recent years, numerous scholars have turned to trans theory as a source of inspiration to rethink foundational assumptions, concepts, and narratives within international studies. This new trend raises critical questions about the purpose, methods, ethics, and political implications of knowledge production that draws on the lives of transgender people.

To discuss the treatment of transgender people within international studies, Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholars Alexander Stoffel and Ida Birkvad are joined by Professor Emma Heaney. They will focus in particular on the wide-spread use of transgender life as an allegory through which to illuminate such various phenomena as sovereignty, migration, displacement, genocide, and war. Metaphors of transition, passing, and liminality have already become part of the lexicon of purportedly critical international studies scholarship. Trans has become, in Andrea Long Chu’s words, ‘a methodological stepping-stone for thinking more expansively about boundary crossings of all sorts: not just trans-gender, but also transnational, transracial, transspecies’.

Where does this allegorical use of the term trans come from? How did it take hold within academic knowledge production? And what discourses does it (re)produce?

Emma Hean​ey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at William Paterson University. She is the author of The New Woman: Literary Modernism, Queer Theory, and the Trans Feminine Remainder, published by Northwestern University Press in 2017. She is currently editing a collection of essays that address the relation of cisness to feminism.

‘Mobile People: Mobility as a Way of Life’ is a Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship programme at Queen Mary University of London, Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Politics and International Relations.

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