Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

GRAD WORKSHOP - Politics and Identity

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

College Hall, Room 209 (Accessibility)
Free and open to the public / Lunch provided

Sarah Khan (Columbia University, Political Science) 
"Personal is Political: Prospects for Women’s Substantive Representation in Pakistan"

Joseph Wuest (University of Pennsylvania, Political Science) 
"'Why is My Child Gay?': PFLAG and the Origins of the ‘Born This Way’ Gay Political Identity"

In her paper, SARAH KHAN develops and tests a theory of how gender inequality within the household is reproduced in the political sphere, undermining prospects for women’s substantive representation. Drawing on an original face-to-face survey conducted in 800 households in the Faisalabad district of Pakistan, she shows that men and women within the same household prioritize systematically different public goods and services based on the context-specific division of household labor. Using a novel behavioral measure of political communication, she demonstrates that women attach a lower value to their distinctive preferences than men, and are less willing to communicate these preferences to political representatives. The gendered asymmetry in preference assertion has implications for democratic theories of representation: it suggests that the link between political participation and substantive representation may be undermined by gender inequality within the household. 

In his paper, JOSEPH WUEST focuses on how the budding LGBTQ movement’s project of making alliances with scientific and medical actors and institutions in the late 1970s and 1980s established the foundations of the “born this way” gay political identity that would come to define the movement’s articulation of gay identity. He argues that the use of scientific expertise in the movement’s political discourse facilitated the creation of the relatively conservative neoliberal version of gay politics that has defined the contemporary LGBTQ movement. Looking to the origins and development of the family-based gay rights organization PFLAG as a case study, he demonstrates how these scientific alliances led the movement to adopt a narrow biodeterministic conception of what it means to be “gay.” This effectively limited the bounds of queer politics, abandoning the more radical early 1970s gay liberation movement’s project of exposing heterosexuality and homosexuality as false and constraining social categories.