Anthropology, Sex and Gender in the 21st Century


This online weekend school provides an introduction to 21st-century anthropological understandings of sex and gender. We will consider how thinking has developed within and beyond the discipline of anthropology as well through the social and political movements of recent decades. This course introduces these developments, particularly those critical insights gained from queer, feminist and other minority perspectives. This course will provide an online space for engaged thinking about these categories themselves, including and beyond L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+.

In more detail, this course considers the roles of women and individuals of minority identities in shaping contemporary research agendas. We will also look at how people construct their gender and sexuality, as well as how body modifications – medically prescribed or self-administered – are caught up in processes of identity formation in diverse global societies, from small-scale rural communities to urban societies. Guest speaker Siobhan McGuirk will draw on research with LGBT asylum seekers in the USA to explore how new social and legal expectations can flatten, or standardize, the diversity of gendered and sexual lives lived elsewhere. Sexuality and sexual practices will be considered in the same cross-cultural perspective, particularly ideas surrounding sexual morality such as the status of sex workers in the UK and further afield.

Some tough questions we will ask include: what are judged to be morally upright and economically sustainable relationships and why? What is the ideal of family and how does this relate to wider societal practice? Are family and household the same thing? Questions like this will lead us to reflect on the role of the state in the construction and normalisation of sexuality

Programme details

Saturday 26 February 2022

9.00am: Sex, sexuality and gender: perspectives from anthropology

10.00am: Making people - and their gender - in cross-cultural perspective                                 

11.00am: Coffee/tea break

11.30am: The performance of gendered identities                               

12.30pm: Discussion

12.45pm: Lunch break

2.00pm: Siobhán McGuirk - Shifting sexual norms: colonialism, migration and globalisation in focus

3.00pm: Pitt Rivers Museum –Beyond the Binary

5.00pm: Course ends for the day

Sunday 27 February 2022

9.00am: Morality and sexuality – is there a right way to have sex?

10.00am: Gendered roles and relationships: family, household and the state

11.00am: Coffee/tea break

11.30am: Medicine, biopower, feminist and queer science

12.30pm: Discussion

12.45pm: Course ends


Description Costs
Standard course fee £145.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Elizabeth Ann Rahman


Elizabeth Rahman is a social and medical anthropologist based at the University of Oxford. Elizabeth specialises in growth, caring techniques, learning, the environment and home-grown mindfulness techniques, in Amazonia and Spain.

Dr Siobhán McGuirk


Siobhán McGuirk is an anthropologist specialising in migration, gender and sexuality, law and society, and the material culture of social justice movements. Trained in visual methods, Siobhán has produced films and curated exhibitions, in addition to academic and journalistic writing. She is an editor of Red Pepper magazine and of the recent edited volume, Asylum for Sale: Profit & Protest in the Migration Industry (PM Press, 2020).


Twitter: @s_mcguirk

IT requirements

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment, where students and tutors will discuss and interact in real time. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.