The Centre for the Study of Democracy and the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture invites Sébastien Chauvin (University of Lausanne/CDG) for the second cycle of the seminar series “French Politics: A Neighbour’s ‘History of the Present’”, entitled “French Universalism vs. Alien Identities?”

Sébastien Chauvin's paper is titled: "How gays almost became French: Republican homophobia, queer banalisation, and the limits of sexual nationalism".

Seminar series “French Politics: A Neighbour’s ‘History of the Present’” invites Sébastien Chauvin

In the 1990s, queer expression, sociality and movements in France were frequently stigmatised as “communautariste” (sectarian) and placed outside the bounds of the national imaginary. That accusation gradually receded in the 2000s and 2010s with the expansion of equality claims, legal victories and heightened cultural visibility. As in other European countries, some forms of queerness were symbolically co-opted as part of the French national project by conservative discourses and parties articulating the ‘protection’ of sexual and gender minorities to racist, anti-immigrant or classist agendas.

Yet, the French political context also presents obstacles to full-swing sexual nationalism. A great deal of French conservative politics is still simultaneously racist, neoliberal and homophobic, while protests against same-sex marriage in the 2010s ostensibly deployed national republican aesthetics and rhetoric.

Moreover, the banalization of queer identities, far from generating homogeneity, has opened the way to plural forms and figures of non-straight and non-cis visibility and existence. While this pluralisation tends to lay bare internal inequality and social contradictions within LGBTQI communities and creates space for conservative gay and lesbian politics, it has also allowed for the emergence of movements and voices countering reactionary articulations of queer safety.

The presentation will focus on four recent incidents when the articulation between sexual/gender minority protection and exclusionary politics were simultaneously enacted and resisted.

About the seminar series

“French Politics: A Neighbour’s ‘History of the Present’” is a monthly seminar series organised by the University of Westminster (Centre for the Study of Democracy & Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture), introducing the “crème de la crème” of French research in Social Sciences and Humanities.

This series is designed with the Foucauldian notion of “history of the present” in mind and will tackle some of the most pressing challenges of French politics and political theory today.
The series is divided into three cycles:

  • An authoritarian spiral in France?
  • French universalism vs. Alien identities?
  • Can France think of itself as postcolonial?

With kind support from the French Embassy in the UK - Higher Education Research and Innovation Department (in association with “The Borders of Identity” seminar series supported by the Funds d’Alembert 2019) and the Political Studies Association.


Fyvie Hall, 309 Regent Street, W1B 2HW, London

Contact for more information

Emmanuel Jouai
[email protected]