unthinking sex - imagining asexuality

April 26, 2019

The inaugural international conference “Unthinking Sex, Imagining Asexuality: Intersectional and Interdisciplinary Perspectives” will be held April 26-27, 2019 at SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue (580 West Hastings Street, 420 Strategy Room) in beautiful Vancouver, located on unceded Coast Salish Territory, the traditional territories of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

To register, please follow the instructions on our eventbrite page (forthcoming). Registration is free and open to all and a light breakfast and lunch will be provided on each day. The room capacity is 72 for the day events, so we encourage you to register via eventbrite if you intend to attend some or all of the conference. Spaces will be reserved for ace and aro community members. SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue is wheelchair accessible. A webpage is forthcoming. The full pdf of the conference schedule is below in the thread.

Evening events include:
>An Asexual Art Show on April 26th from 7:30–9:30 pm ("Imagining Asexuality: Making Asexual Cultures and Archives") at Salon 20 in the basement level of SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue (580 West Hastings Street), co-curated by Lauren Jankowski and Heather Prost.
>A Community Event and Book Celebration at historic LGBTQ2IA+ bookstore, Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium (1238 Davie St., Vancouver) on April 27th from 7:30–9:30 pm. The book celebration will feature asexual authors Julie Sondra Decker (The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality), Angela Chen (ACE: Understanding Asexuality and Culture), Lauren Jankowski (Shape Shifter Chronicles series), and Ela Przybylo (Asexual Erotics: Intimate Readings of Compulsory Sexuality).

In addition to the evening events, the conference schedule is as follows:
APRIL 26th, 2019
8:30–10:00 am Coffee and light breakfast provided
9:00–9:45 am Intro to Asexuality Workshop
10:00–10:10 am Welcome Address
10:15–11:15 am Asexual Activisms Roundtable: CJ Deluzio Chasin (University of Windsor), Justine Munich (SFU), Cole Brown, and Erica Mulder
11:30 am–12:30 pm Rethinking Science,Rethinking A/sexuality Panel: Lori Brotto (UBC) and Kristina Gupta (Wake Forest University)
12:45–1:45 pm Lunch provided
2:00–3:15 pm Five Years after Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives: Discussion with M. Milks (Pace University), KJ Cerankowski (Oberlin College), and Evelyn Elgie (UBC)
3:30–4:45 pm Critical Approaches to Race, Erotics, and Asexuality Panel: June Scudeler (SFU), Ianna Hawkins Owen (Williams College), and Kaiya Jacob (SFU)

APRIL 27th, 2019
8:30–10:00 am Coffee and light breakfast provided
9:00–9:45 am Intro to Asexuality Workshop
10:00–11:15 am Asian A/sexualities
in Conversation Panel: Day Wong (Hong Kong Baptist University), Theresa Kenney (McMaster University), and Helen Hok-Sze Leung (SFU). This panel is funded by the David Lam Centre at SFU.
11:30 am–12:30 pm Queer Approaches to Asexuality Panel:
Nicole Seymour (California State University, Fullerton), Benjamin Kahan (Louisiana State University), and Cynthia Barounis (Washington University)
12:45–2:00 pm Lunch provided by the David Lam Centre at SFU
2:15–3:45 pm Feminist Approaches to Asexualities Panel:
Breanne Fahs (Arizona State University), Anna Kurowicka (Polish Academy of Sciences), and Ela Przybylo (SFU)

Asexuality studies is an emergent field of study that critically interrogates "compulsory sexuality," or the idea that sex is necessary to health, well-being, happiness, and social belonging. Creating space for asexuality within sexuality studies is important not only because it increases awareness of a marginalized sexual identity and orientation but also because it raises questions as to the role of sex in relationships and society more broadly. Scholarship and activism on asexuality has given us more tools for thinking about relationships, intimacy, pleasure, and health without centering sex in those discussions.

Our event celebrates the work that has been done in this burgeoning field, but also attempts to address gaps in the scholarship and imagine what the future of the field could look like. We hope to foster further visibility, education, and acceptance of asexuality. While asexuality has gained in visibility in recent years it is still widely rejected within LGBTQ2+ spaces, and asexual experiences are often invisible or silenced. Further, asexuality is routinely medicalized and misdiagnosed as a desire disorder. Our conference will invite conversations about how to challenge pathology models, as well as ignite creative forms of asexual expression. We hope to inspire future intersectional and interdisciplinary research on asexuality since, at present, there is no academic conference devoted solely to the topic of asexuality.

Our specific objectives for the conference are:
-to foster intersectional conversations around about a/sexuality in relation to gender, ability, racialization, Indigeneity, class, and LGBTQ2+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, plus) identification.
​-to extend the interdisciplinary conversations around asexuality by featuring activist and academic speakers from across disciplines and location.
​-to place more established voices in asexuality research in conversation with newer scholars and graduate students as a way to build connections and move the field forward.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowment
Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at SFU
David Lam Centre at SFU
Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue
Office of the Vice-President, Academic at SFU
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at SFU
Department of Sociology and Anthropology at SFU
Work-Study Program at SFU
Arts Council of New Westminster
Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium

Conference co-organizers Ela Przybylo and KJ Cerankowski would like to thank the following for their help in organizing the conference: Roberta Neilson, Helen Hok-Sze Leung, Lara Campbell, The Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at SFU, and Beverly Neufeld. Thank you to research assistants Daisy Lee, Evelyn Elgie, and Erica Mulder. A major thank you to all of our sponsors. Thank you to Jeff Kulak for the dynamic graphic design for this conference.