The Jonathan Cooper Memorial Lecture: On Kinship

This lecture asks us to think about how the queer and trans past has often been drawn upon to make a series of claims about liberal democracy itself, including the place of identity in rights-based discourses of experience, policy, and governance. Drawing on lessons from German history, Professor Evans will argue that in celebrating decriminalisation and the attainment of key social rights, we have also forgotten that not everyone benefited equally from these gains as, in fact, there were many different forms of solidarity and struggle over bodies, desire, community, politics, and family. Using kinship as an analytic category allows us to uncover that phenomenon, to seek out the fraught as well as productive ways in which Germans have confronted race, gender nonconformity, and sexuality in social movements, art, and everyday life. This lecture will tell the story of entanglements and alliances, desire over respectability, and good and bad kin, as queer and trans people have tested new possibilities for life, love, and public and family life in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.