Monday, 31 December 2007

Melbourne Conference

It's been a while since I updated this blog so apologies. With the clock ticking towards 2008 I thought I'd do a quick update before the new year. Let's start with the 2007 International Conference of the Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand. I was lucky enough to attend this conference, held in the city of Melbourne at the end of November. My own paper was entitled 'Policing at the Boundaries: Public Sex Environments and the Law - A UK Perspective' and considered some of the broad issues relating to PSEs - and was really about outlining how our legal system deals with these offences in theory and the postcode lottery of policing that takes place in reality. In my slot, Dave McDonald (University of Melbourne) delivered a very interesting paper entitled 'Injury in the Marking of Homosexual Desire'. His paper focused on a series of murders between 1979 and 1983. The victims were five males aged between fourteen and twenty-five and the signs of anal trauma borne on the bodies of some of the victims became important in the subsequent telling of their story. McDonald sought to address two areas; the ways through which certain markings, specifically the marking of anal trauma, has been read as a sign of the inscription of homosexual desire; and second, how the construction of victims as children, and child-like, functions to render homosexuality as paedophilia.

What was striking to me in listening to his paper in a year of attending many papers across across three continents this year is the similarity in theoretical focus. The work of Butler and Sedgwick has become the only work of value to young academics in this field. Whilst this is undoubtedly a reflection of the power of those ideas it troubles me that there are so few dissenters on the academic circuit.

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