Rethinking Sexual Citizenship

Abstract 

Over the last two decades sexuality has emerged as a key theme in debates about citizenship, leading to the development of the concept of sexual citizenship. This article reviews this literature and identifies four main areas of critical framing: work that contests the significance of sexuality to citizenship; critiques that focus on the possibilities and limitations of mobilising the language of citizenship in sexual politics; analyses of sexual citizenship in relation to nationalisms and border making; and literature that critically examines western constructions of sexuality and sexual politics underpinning understandings of sexual citizenship. In order to progress the field theoretically, the article seeks to extend critiques of sexual citizenship focusing on two key aspects of its construction: the sexual citizen-subject and spaces of sexual citizenship. It argues for a critical rethink that encompasses a de-centring of a ‘western-centric’ focus in order to advance understandings of how sexual citizenship operates both in the Global North and South.

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4 comments
  1. Richardson has been a bit oddball on sex work. More interested in citizenship as respectability and the ways citizenship limits women’s (and I do mean bio-female, not trans*) participation in civil society. I think her work obviously has huge implications for the ways sex worker activists construct demands and political actions, but she apparently doesn’t want to explore that.

    • Well, that doesn’t prevent others from doing so. And I think the concept of sexual citizenship is still not used enough in sex work reseach.

  2. Maybe it’s no fair for me to grouse but I will grouse anyway about not being cited in this article. And I’m not just complaining that Sex Workers Unite (Beacon 2014) was overlooked but also the entire edition of the Journal of African American History on Race and sexual citizenship which I edited and contributed to published in 2007.

    • I have to admit that I was surprised, too, about how little literature on sex workers activism she included.

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