Entanglements of Gender, Nationalism, and (Anti-)Migration in Contemporary Europe

Over the last few years, issues related to gender and sexuality came to the center of public and political debates in Europe. Right-wing parties and far right actors across Europe are gaining popularity while increasingly drawing on gender and sexuality in their anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric (Mayer, Ajanović and Sauer 2014, Meret and Siim 2013, Sauer, Kuhar, Ajanović and Saarinen 2016).

However, there are significant variations in the ways in which gender and anti-immigration discourses and politics, and the interplay between the two, has been articulated. Many right-wing groups, especially those in Europe’s West and North, have instrumentalized discourses of gender and sexual equality in an effort to distinguish between ‘us’ (progressive Europeans) and ‘them’ (Muslims, minorities, and refugees). Such re-appropriations, conceptualized through the notions of homonationalism (Puar 2007), femonationalism (Farris 2017), and sexual nationalisms (Mepschen and Duyvendak 2012), have served to widen racial boundaries between communities and to advance restrictive policies toward migrants and refugees.  

Accompanying these developments, in recent years, discourses of gender and sexual equality have increasingly come under attack by right-wing groups and parties across Europe. Scholars and activists often use the concepts of anti-gender or anti-LGBTQ movements to capture this new phenomenon and point out its transnational dimension (Kováts and Poim 2015, Köttig, Bitzan, and Petó 2017, Kuhar and Paternotte 2017).

One of the most prominent discursive threads present in this transnational mobilization is the call for the replacement of the notion of gender with the idea of complementarity of the sexes, stemming from the allegedly natural differences between women and men. These anti-gender discourses and accompanying reproductivism are often closely interwoven with a strong anti-immigration stance.

The aim of this special issue is to capture and interrogate the existing multiplicity of ways in which gender and sexuality are articulated together with nationalist, anti-immigration, and right-wing populist discourses in contemporary European socio-political landscapes.

Therefore, we are particularly interested in contributions which analyze the current contestations of gender and gender-related discursive practices in specific contexts and communities from different disciplinary frameworks, including but not limited to sociology, anthropology, political science, gender studies, and socio-legal studies.

Overall, we invite contributions that interrogate how two key political struggles in Europe today - around gender and immigration - feed into each other, thereby producing new meanings and arguments. 

This special issue is edited by guest-editors Dr An Van Raemdonck, Dr Katja Kahlina, and Dra Aleksandra Sygnowska.

Abstract Submission
Please submit your abstracts (max 250 words) by April 1, 2020 only by email to all three guest editors (please address your emails to: katja.kahlina@helsinki.fi; anvanraemdonck@gmail.com; aleksandra.sygnowska@gmail.com).

Communication on selected abstracts and invitation of full papers can be expected by 15 April 2020. Authors will be notified if their abstract is accepted on 1 May 2020, and full papers are to be submitted for peer review by 1 October 2020.


DiGeSt is an interdisciplinary and international journal hosted by Ghent University that accepts papers from authors working from all disciplinary backgrounds; including (though not limited to) gender and diversity studies, sociology, anthropology, empirical ethics, bioethics, feminist studies, psychology, political sciences and history. For more information contact the editors, Dr Ladan Rahbari & Dr Tina Goethals.