Sex rule and state borders in global politics

Judge Patrick M. Garcia from Texas, performs several weddings on the Mexican half of the bridge
Judge Patrick M. Garcia from Texas, performs several weddings on the Mexican half of the bridge "Paso del Norte" in Ciudad Juárez. He does this to facilitate the paperwork of those couples who cannot travel to the US to celebrate their wedding and start their immigration process because of the COVID-19 retsrictions and continuously changing policies. © Cristina De Middel/Magnum Photos/Ritzau Scanpix,

Laura Sjoberg explores the concept of ‘sex rule’ in state security, arguing that the sexual construction of the state manifests through a state of sex rule, built on a wide variety of networks of sex rules. 

The regulation of sex and sexuality exist and matter in global politics, and global politics affects the shape of regulation of sex and sexuality. With Gayle Rubin (1975, 204), Sjoberg suggests that this state of sex rule is context-dependent but stable: “sex/gender systems are not ahistorical emanations of the human mind; they are products of historical human activity.” 

This talk presents four contexts where sex rules and the state are intimately intertwined: 1) the practice and legacies of dynastic marriage (building the state); 2) the historical and contemporary multi-faceted control of citizen marriage and reproduction (consolidating the state); 3) the weaponization of the performance of sex acts for partner/marriage migration and asylum cases (controlling entrance to the state); 4) and the wielding of homonormativity as a condition of national membership (consolidating the identity of the state). 

From these contexts, the talk builds an initial plausibility case for what ‘sex rule’ is and how it works in global politics and international security.

Date and place

Thursday, 30 March 2023, 13:00 - 14:45

DIIS Auditorium Gl. Kalkbrænderi Vej 51A, 2100 Copenhagen

Registration and programme

Read the programme and register here.


Laura Sjoberg, Department of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy, Royal Holloway University of London 

Atreyee Sen, Department of Anthropology, UCPH

Matthias HumerDepartment of Political Science, UCPH

Robin May Schott, Danish Institute for International Studies