March 23rd, 15:15-17:00
Malin Ah-King: An Evolutionary Biologist’s Engagement in Gender Studies or The Paradox of Knowing Diversity and Telling Normative Tales
Location: Room Delfi, Tema Building, Linköping University
Malin Ah-King is an evolutionary biologist and gender researcher working at the Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University, Sweden. She received her PhD at the department of Zoology, Stockholm University, Sweden and was then employed at the Centre for Gender Research in Uppsala in the GenNa program, a special venture to bridge the gap between the Natural and Cultural Sciences. Thereafter she had a post-doc at the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Los Angeles. Her research aims to 1) problematize the portrayal of biological sex as stable, 2) making visible stereotypic gender and heteronormative notions in theory and research and 3) develop a framework for understanding biological sex as variable and constantly changing, aiming toward a non-normative view of biological diversity.
How can engagement in a positivist science like biology be used to destabilize social normative power regimes like gender and sexuality?
Biological sex differences are often depicted as essentially separate and static, with sexualities other than heterosexuality being labeled abnormal. However, reviewing the variation of sexes and sexualities in nature reveals an unimaginable diversity. In reality, nature has no boundaries of sex, gender and sexuality, exceeding the traditional depictions of biology presented in the media, by textbook versions of evolutionary biology and most prominently, evolutionary psychologists. There are species that change sex depending on their social environment, numerous hermaphrodites, and eggs that are unsexed to begin with but receive their sex due to the temperature during incubation. All these variations are depicted as deviations from a typical female and male pattern. Here I conclude that this variability is simply part of the enormous biological diversity, and sex, like any other characteristic can change over evolutionary time.
Having knowledge of biological sciences creates a basis for making justified and insightful critiques of androcentrism and heteronormativity within biology. I will discuss how the mainstream theoretical framework of evolutionary biology impedes interpretation of important new findings and how we can aim towards a non-normative evolutionary biology.
The National Secretariat for Gender Research has organized a series of studies of Swedish gender studies education. In a recently published report within this series, gender studies alumni have responded to survey questions and participated in focus group interviews, to provide a picture of the connections between gender studies education, ways of perceiving the competencies specific to gender studies, and experiences from the working life that for many alumni have followed after their education.
Björn Pernrud email@example.com
About Gender Studies
The objective for TEMA - The Department of Thematic Studies is to pursue excellent research and education at undergraduate and advanced levels relevant to society. Tema aims to provide a major impetus in career development for both future researchers and those who have just entered the field of research
Last updated: 2013-05-17