Director of Programmes ESWA
Luca Stevenson is a male sex worker and Operations Officer at the European Sex Workers' Rights Alliance, a network of more than 100 organisations providing services and supporting for sex workers' rights in Europe and Central Asia. Luca is part of a multi-disciplinary team which advocates for the rights of sex workers in diverse policy fields such as acess to health, justice, digital rights and social inclusion. Luca has worked extensively across Europe with sex workers from various backgrounds including migrant and LGBT sex workers. He is also currently Responsable de Mission for 'Jasmine', a project of Medecins du Monde France which aims to address and reduce violence against sex workers and sits on the Board of Directors of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects.
Keynote - 04.10
Recent Advances and Setbacks of the Sex Workers’ Rights Movement
The last 40 years have seen an incredible development and expansion of the sex workers’ rights movement. From the occupation of the Church of St. Nizier by 100s of sex workers in France in 1975 to protests by 25,000 sex workers in India in 2001 or recent campaigns against Mastercard’s financial discrimination of sex workers in the US, sex workers across the globe have used myriads forms of actions to fight for their labour and human rights and get sex work recognised as work.
Political activism and advocacy, in particular against the criminalisation of sex work, police violence and for better living and working conditions, have taken the form of direct actions, protests, trade unionism, strikes, legal challenges, as well as artivism and self-representation through various art forms: literature, performance art or visual art amongst others.
The presentation will explore recent advances and setbacks of the sex workers’ rights movement based on a few key examples from the movement. It will assess how popular cultural representations, including representations by sex workers, have mirrored the progress of the sex workers’ rights movements.
Professor at the University of Turku
Susanna Paasonen is professor of Media Studies. After finishing her PhD in Media Studies in Turku in 2002 she acted as lecturer in Media Culture at University of Tampere (2003), as an Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Women's Studies in Turku (2004-5), as senior research associate in Digital Culture at University of Jyväskylä (2005-7), as researcher at the Collegium for Advanced Studies at University of Helsinki (2007-10) and as professor of Digital Culture at Jyväskylä (2010-11) before starting in her current post in August 2011. Paasonen was appointed docent in Media Culture at University of Tampere in 2004 and as docent in Feminist Media Studies in Turku in 2006. She was the first recipient of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters' Jutikkala Award in Humanities in 2011 and the Association of Internet Researchers' Nancy Baym Annual Book Award in 2020. She spent part of her sabbatical research leave in 2016 as visiting scholar at MIT's department of Comparative Media Studies and at Microsoft Research New England's Social Media Collective and was briefly visiting professor at University of Florence during the covid-19 spring of 2020, as well as a Hunt-Simes Visiting Chair in Sexuality Studies at University of Sydney in 2022.
Keynote - 05.10
In a Sea of Dicks: On the Limits of Porn
Using dick pics as a point of departure, this chapter inquires after the limits of pornography as a genre marker in the context of contemporary networked sexual exchanges. Drawing on interviews with the users of a Finnish “all-purpose” sexual platform Alaston Suomi (“Naked Finland”) used for naked self-expression, display, and sexual communication where dick pics abound, it further asks how the denominator of pornography is deployed when discussing distinctions within online sexual content. My discussion of the limits and affordances of the notion of porn is situated in a context of network cultures defined equally by the range and volume of sexual media and its concurrent, extensive weeding out.
Professor at Northumbria University
My research centres on sexual media and representations. I am interested in the textual formations of pornography and how those play out across different technologies; in how people access and engage with pornographic materials and with other forms of sexualized products. I’m also fascinated by seemingly costant demands for increasing regulation and censorship. I have written about the problems of attempts to legislate against pornography and have been active in opposing measures which seek to criminalise the imagination. Alongside this work, I have explored porn-star performances, the meanings of masochism in sexual storytelling, the idea of ‘authenticity’ in pornography, and how audiences speak about the sexual content they like. I am a founding co-editor of the Routledge journal Porn Studies, a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Gender Studies, of Sexualities, of Cine-Excess and of Participations.
Keynote - 06.10
Humour, Pathos, and Provocation: Deconstructing Adult Material and Its Contradictions
In Channel 4’s BAFTA nominated Adult Material (2020), Hayley Burrows has seemingly navigated the norms and expectations of motherhood and femininity while forging a successful career in porn as Jolene Dollar: that is, until she steps in to protect an industry newbie. As she calls out exploitation and lack of consent in the industry, Jolene sees all her relationships and her life implode. Set in the contemporary moment, Adult Material’s mixture of humour and pathos owes much to the knowing titillations of 1970s sex comedies and to the nostalgia of prudish Britishness in dramas such as the BBC’s A Very English Scandal (2018) and A Very British Scandal (2021). Written by Lucy Kirkwood from an explicitly feminine perspective, Adult Material garnered considerable praise from television critics and industry insiders, nevertheless, some audiences rejected its hybrid approach; commentators complained of being misled by the promotional material which had emphasised the narrative’s comic address. This presentation will explore the ways in which the series’ mix of comedy, narrative and dialogue work to dramatise the tensions of contemporary debates about women’s lives - Adult Material explicitly (though not always successfully) questions ‘feminist’ perspectives on sex work, while also exploring intersections of class and dynamics of agency and consent in the #MeToo era.