Lisbon, 21-26 April 2014
The course “Sexuality and Morality: Intercultural Perspectives and Mediations” will be held at the Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE-IUL), in Lisbon, Portugal, from the 21st to the 26th of April 2014.
Around 20 participants will be accepted.
Scholarships are available from the Grundtvig Program funded by The European Commission (see below). Please note that the deadline for applying for these scholarships is the 17th of September 2013.
Objectives and Rationale
From the very beginnings of anthropology the entanglements of sexuality and morality have captured the imagination of scholars, challenging their normative assumptions and calling into question their descriptive and interpretative tools. What can be said of these entanglements at the beginning of the 21st century, after decades of research on the matter? Are there still unbroken taboos in the social sciences? How are we to understand sexuality and morality, and how can these issues be investigated? How are relations between sexuality and morality being (re)defined? What is the role of religion, politics, and commerce in (re)shaping these relations? How can anthropology improve our understanding of such complex entanglements?
In recent years, sexuality and morality have received increased attention in the social sciences. While sexuality has ‘gone global’ and become a highly seductive concept (Moore 2011), its entanglements with moral issues and anxieties continue to provide important insights on key societal concerns and transformations. To illuminate such concerns, an emerging body of scholarship on morality in the social sciences, and more particularly in anthropology, seems particularly well suited. By giving new impetus and analytical purchase to the notion of morality, this scholarship helps us rethink sexuality and its wider implications.
Challenging taken for granted assumptions on sexuality and morality, and focusing on their intersections, the course is designed to move from general theoretical and methodological considerations to a range of concrete examples dealing with religion, politics and commerce. Religious taboos, sex work, and same-sex marriages are among the cases addressed. They will help participants answer the key questions asked during the course, and provide exemplary illustrations of how sexuality, morality, and their complex relationships can be rethought in the light of the latest debates in the field of anthropology.
Without neglecting classical authors such as Margaret Mead and Michel Foucault, the course has a strong emphasis on contemporary debates in the social sciences. It will review key perspectives and approaches, offer participants a flexible methodological and theoretical framework, and provide a space for debating a range of case studies and concrete examples under the guidance of lecturers with first hand ethnographical knowledge on the addressed topics.
The course will consist of 5 lectures (3 hours per day), complemented with 5 seminars (3 hours per day) that will allow in-depth discussion of previously shared material. There will also be a fieldwork excursion on the final day.
Combining theory and empirical research this course offers theoretical as well as practical tools that will provide the participants with a wide spectrum of strategies to address the intersections of sexuality and morality.
The lectures and seminars will be structured around the following themes:
Day 1: The anthropology of sexuality and morality: An introduction
Day 2: Delineating the field: Key debates on sexuality and morality
Day 3: Sexuality, taboo and religion
Day 4: Sex work and the commerce of intimacy
Day 5: Same-sex marriages and the ‘end’ of gender
On day 6, there will be a fieldwork excursion and a final discussion
Lectures and seminars will be given by academics with a strong international profile that have both empirical and theoretical expertise on the subjects treated.
The lectures are structured to proceed from more general theoretical and methodological considerations (lessons 1 and 2) to a range of concrete examples dealing with religious taboos (lesson 3), sex work (lesson 4), and same-sex marriages (lesson 5).
The seminars provide a space for in depth, participatory debate on the topics addressed during the lectures. They are based on the discussion of key texts sent to participants before the beginning of the course. The distributed material allows participants to prepare in advance for the seminars, enabling also those who wish to undertake the course’s assessment to comply with its requirements.
Tutorials are provided to participants who wish to receive the course’s diploma (6 ECTS) to support them in the preparation of their final papers. The tutorials offer methodological, theoretical, and practical guidance to help participants design and write up their research.
The course is taught in English, but discussion may be in English and Portuguese depending on the participants’ preferences. As for the tutorials and the final essay, Portuguese, English, Spanish, French, Italian are accepted.
Anna Fedele is a research fellow of the CRIA- Lisbon University Institute. Her research focuses on the intersections of gender and religion and particularly on issues of corporeality, sexuality and ritual creativity. Anna is the author of Looking for Mary Magdalene. Alternative Pilgrimage and Ritual Creativity at Catholic Shrines in France (Oxford University Press, 2012). She has also co-edited Encounters of Body and Soul in Contemporary Religious Practices (Berghahn, EASA Series 2011) and Gender and Power in Contemporary Spirituality. (Routledge Studies in Religion, 2013)
Valerio Simoni is a research fellow of the CRIA- Lisbon University Institute, and a Visiting Research Associate at the Centre for Tourism & Cultural Change (UK). His current researches, grounded in ethnographic fieldwork in Cuba and Spain, focus on transformations of intimate and economic lives and controversial enactments of friendship, love, sex, and commerce in international tourism and migration. He has published his work in books and anthropology journals including Etnografica, Civilisations, and Tsantsa.
This intensive course has been included in the Grundtvig Training Database and a limited number of scholarships are available. We encourage prospective participants coming from countries in which the Grundtvig Program operates to apply for these scholarships after prior consultation with us regarding the places available.
You can find general information about the Grundtvig program at:
For administrative enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org