Peter A Allard School of Law

The Centre for Feminist Legal Studies Lecture Series: Davina Cooper

Event Description:

Davina will be giving a talk titled "The Controversial Politics of Abolishing Legal Sex in Britain: A Study in Prefigurative Law Reform". Prefiguration has become re-popularised – a political strategy that embodies, in the present, future-facing political goals. This talk explores its value as an academic method, where radical, future-oriented, legislative proposals are treated as if they were already viable and, so, worthy of serious consideration. Her focus is the proposal to abolish legal sex and gender status in Britain – a move at the heart of a four-year research council funded project that ended in 2022. In this talk, Davina will explore the politics of abolishing legal sex/ gender status (described as decertification) – attending to its value, and also to its risks, as a highly controversial proposal in 21st century Britain. She then considers how posing a radical legal reform, like this, can advance three progressive academic objectives: analysing what is, rehearsing change, and intervening in the present. Exploring the abolition of legal sex status illuminates everyday attachments (and anxieties) towards sex and gender categories and directs attention towards contemporary informalisation developments taking place in the shadow of state law; it provides a legal structure for imagining, rehearsing, and prototyping change; and by constructing a controversial legal reform, it acts within the political struggles currently taking place.".


Davina Cooper

Davina Cooper is a Research Professor in Law and Political Theory at King's College London. Her work addresses the prompts, conflicts, methods, and practices of transformative progressive politics, with a focus on prefigurative concepts, radical governing, and disputes over gender, sexuality, and religion. Her most recent books are Feeling like a State: Desire, Denial, and the Recasting of Authority and Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces (both published by Duke UP). She recently completed a 4-year funded project on prefigurative law reform methods and the dismantling of legal sex status and is now working on a Leverhulme fellowship book project on conceptual activism.

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