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Call for Abstracts: Anti-Gender Politics and Queer Theory

Call for abstracts: Special issue of lambda nordica

Anti-gender politics and queer theory 

Editors: Erika Alm and Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen


This special issue aims to offer a platform for mapping and analyzing anti-gender campaigns around the world as well as for incisive queer-theoretical reflections on central characteristics that shape anti-gender politics’ premise, practice, and growth. At the center of this special issue’s concern are three overarching questions:

  • In what ways do anti-gender narratives and movements engage queer theory?
  • How can queer theory contribute towards new understandings of what drives contemporary anti-gender politics?
  • How can queer theory contribute towards articulating and realizing otherwise worlds in this historical moment, in the context of rising anti-gender politics, populism, fascist re-emergences, destabilizing left-right political axes, progressive failures, and pandemic and climate crises?

Queer theory emerged from deeply political investments in destabilizing unequal power structures that relied on the imaginary stability and essential quality of gender. Recent critiques, however, argue that queer theory has itself turned normative and elitist (e.g. Brim 2020, Rao 2020).

Contemporary anti-gender politics challenges queer theory quite profoundly not only through the critique of ‘gender ideology’, but also through the focus on biological essentialism, the insistence on heteronormativity, nationalism and society’s moral imperative, the (ab)use of science to claim legitimacy for its views,  and the dismissal of gender, feminist and queer studies’ relevance for understanding gendered dimensions of contemporary political transformations. This is therefore an opportune moment to revisit some classic questions in queer studies – those of biology, essence, norms and power at a time marked by serious challenges to society’s very stability.

Furthermore, focusing on anti-gender politics offers an opportunity to further map practices and experiences in and between different regional and global locations. Whilst much focus thus far has been on Eastern and parts of Continental Europe, anti-gender rhetoric influences governments, cultural and political mobilizations all over the world.  If, as Kuhar and Paternotte argue in their book Anti-gender campaigns in Europe (2017), anti-gender movements are well-organized transnational and global phenomena, it is clear that local, national and regional specificities must be connected to and compared with broader patterns of shared values and rhetoric.

This special issue, then, aims to revitalize queer theory – in theory and politics – through a critical exploration of contemporary anti-gender movements. The case of anti-gender politics showcases the urgency of attending to queer genealogies in theory, art, ethics, affect, and politics, especially its call to confront and destabilize ideologies of gender stability and patriarchal and white supremacist norms as the very basis for society.

lambda nordica welcomes papers that address these complexities. Suggested topics for articles are for example (but not limited to):

  • Theorizing the geopolitics of queer critique in relation to anti-gender movements, for example the de-centering of a US and English-language hegemony in queer theory.
  • Critical feminist and queer responses to contemporary anti-gender politics; what are the differences, overlaps, and conflicts?
  • Investigating the historical and colonial genealogies of contemporary anti-gender politics, and in turn foundational themes of critique in queer theory such as biology, the body, essence, gender, and care.
  • What nationalist anxieties and fantasies are played out in anti-gender campaigns?
  • In what ways are homophobia, transphobia, racism and/or misogyny articulated in anti-gender politics?
  • How do anti-gender politics and the viral epidemic consequences of Covid-19 interplay to challenge visions of minority rights and transformative justice?
  • In what ways can transformative justice activism mobilize against anti-gender politics, for example in opposing neoliberalism’s hegemony (Gunnarsson Payne 2019)?


Timeline and submission: 

Deadline for abstracts: 1 September 2020

Deadline for full papers: 1 February 2021

Planned publication: 2022

Special issue language: English or Scandinavian languages

Please submit your abstract and/or any queries to editors@lambdanordica.org


Author guidelines and submission:



Brim, Matt. 2020. Poor queer studies: Confronting elitism in the university. Duke University Press.
Gunnarsson Payne. 2019. Challenging “Gender Ideology”: (Anti-)Gender Politics in Europe’s Populist Moment. The New Pretender. 10 February.
Kuhar, Roman and David Paternotte, eds. 2017. Anti-gender campaigns in Europe: Mobilizing against equality. Rowman and Littlefield.
Rao, Rahul. 2020. Out of time: The queer politics of postcoloniality. Oxford University Press.