Sociologist Receives Fulbright for Sexuality Studies
Janice Irvine (sociology) has been awarded a Fulbright grant for next semester. She will travel to Croatia where she’ll be on the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb. “I'll be teaching an advanced course called Sexuality and Social Theory,” says Irvine, who will also be doing research on sexuality in a post-socialist country with Aleksander Stulhofer, a professor of sociology there.
A historical and cultural sociologist, Irvine is interested in the relationship between power and the production of various sorts of sexual knowledge. She has shaped her work with feminist theories, queer studies, and interdisciplinary critical theories of culture, language, emotion and representation. One area she has pursued recently is the role of emotions in political battles, especially those over sexual issues.
Irvine explains: “Religious conservatives have successfully dominated the public conversation about sexuality education, abortion and gay rights by using strategies that provoke volatile emotions such as anger, hatred, fear and disgust. I’m interested in how emotions work in the political realm and how provocative sexual language and symbols are used to trigger volatile public reaction.”
However, as a scholar specializing in the sociology of sexualities and gender, Irvine’s main focus is at the intersections of disciplinary approaches to these topics. “I am very excited about my work in Croatia,” she says, “because I’m keenly interested in the struggles of this post-socialist society seeking integration into the European Union, with its strongly-established human rights standards and discourses on sexuality. Croatia is particularly intriguing because the academy is producing exciting work on sexuality and gender—such as that at the University of Zagreb—while at the same time issues of sexuality and gender are still emerging and developing."
Given Irvine’s prior research on religion and sexuality, she is interested in the pervasiveness of religion in Croatia’s discourses on sexuality, as well as the religious influence on policy and politics. “The Fulbright affords me a compelling glimpse into ways in which the profound social and economic transformations in this country might have shaped the discourses and cultural spaces for sexuality and gender. I am eager to observe first-hand the many political and social transformations in this post-socialist, post-independence country. My research has allowed me to see the power of transnational paradigms for analyzing the intersections of nationhood, race, gender, sexuality, and social class. I anticipate that a teaching experience in Croatia will deeply enhance this work.”
November 17, 2008