Language and Sexuality (through and) beyond Gender
Editor: Costas Canakis, Venetia Kantsa and Kostas Yiannakopoulos
Date Of Publication: Jul 2010
This volume is a collection of papers on aspects of language and sexuality as understood and problematized by scholars in linguistics and anthropology. The idea behind this volume was to bring together people working on language-and-sexuality issues from within these two fields given that linguistic research on this topic is, more often than not, fieldwork-related and anthropological research characteristically focuses on issues of sexual onomasiology and semasiology, a concomitant of its preoccupation with social categories and categorization. This endeavor is in many respects a continuation of the discussion on the social constitution of gender while following up on a slowly but steadily growing tradition of research on language and sexuality, both in relation to gender and beyond it. Although gender and sexuality may be thought of as distinct, in principle, they interact not only in the framework provided by heteronormativity, but also in contexts where their presupposed alignment is questioned, if not summarily rebuked. Therefore, if there is, indeed, something to be said about language and sexuality beyond gender, any such discussion will also have to go through it. On the other hand, work on gendered language will have to co-estimate the findings of research on language-and-sexuality. Contributors in this volume have assumed a variety of theoretical positions from which to tackle their diverse topics, covering a wide range of sexually relevant language pertaining to heterosexual, lesbian, gay, and queer experience but also to voice, silence, the unconscious, and nationalism. Issues of identities and desires inevitably take center stage in many of the papers, reflecting dominant theoretical approaches and tensions in the field, even as authors may remain skeptical of the usefulness of the ensuing polarizations. At the same time, the polyphony envisioned by the editors and contributors in this volume will be operative in the ongoing critical appraisal of theoretical stances towards the intricate indexical relation between language, gender, and sexuality.
Costas Canakis is Assistant Professor of Sociolinguistics at the Department of Social Anthropology and History, University of the Aegean. His interests lie at the intersection of sociolinguistics, pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, and anthrolinguistics. His publications include Subjectification: Various Paths to Subjectivity (co-edited with A. Athanasiadou and B. Cornillie, Mouton de Gruyter, 2006), the monograph An Introduction to Pragmatics: Cognitive and Social Aspects of Language Use (in Greek, Eikostós Prótos, 2007), the edited volume Language and Sexuality: Linguistic and Anthropological Perspectives (in Greek, Eikostós Prótos, 2010), and several articles on language and homoerotic masculinities.
Venetia Kantsa is Assistant Professor of Social Anthropology at the Department of Social Anthropology and History, University of the Aegean. She has carried out extensive fieldwork on women’s same-sex sexuality in Greece and is currently engaged on a project on assisted reproduction, gender and notions of time. Her publications include Gender and Social Sciences in Modern Greece and Studies on Gender in History and Anthropology (both co-edited with Vasiliki Moutafi and Evthymios Papataxiarchis, in Greek, Aleksándreia, 2010) and the forthcoming edited volume Motherhood in the Forefront: Recent Research in Greek Ethnography (in Greek, Aleksándreia) as well as articles and book chapters on lesbian spaces, lesbian visibility, non-normative motherhood, same-sex marriage, gender theory, and kinship in the time of assisted reproduction.
Kostas Yannakopoulos is Assistant Professor of Social Anthropology at the Department of Social Anthropology and History, University of the Aegean. His research interests focus on gender, male homosexuality and homosociality, the relation between anthropology and psychoanalysis, and the politics of difference and urban space. His publications include “Αmis ou amants? Amours entre hommes et identités sexuelles au Pirèe et à Athènes,” Terrain 27 (1996) and the edited volumes Sexualities: Theories and Politics of Anthropology (in Greek, Aleksándreia, 2006), “Psychoanalysis and Social Anthropology,” Ek ton Istéron, Psychoanalytical Review, vol. 14, 2006 and Contested Spaces in the City: Spatial Approaches of Culture (in Greek, co-edited with Yannis Yannitsiotis, Aleksándreia, 2010).
Many of the chapters prove particularly revealing in terms of their analyses and certainly lending solid support to the claim made in the introduction that research on language and sexuality has managed to claim visibility for a field that goes against both social and academic’s ‘responsibility’ (p.7). This is the case not only because they report on original research in underground contexts, but also because they scrutinize the detailed and not always apparent indexical meanings of several taboo words and expressions, whose analysis might be considered provocative….In addition, of particular merit are the last two chapters, which suggest the incorporation of interdisciplinary perspectives in understanding the relationship among language, gender, and sexuality.
…with its diverse and deep analysis of interesting aspects of the relationship between language and sexuality, the volume can be hailed as a landmark in the field’s development. It will definitely appeal to scholars working not only in (socio) linguistics and (social) anthropology of gender and sexuality but also to people interested in other fields, such as political science and/or Modern Greek studies.
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