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Christel Baltes-Löhr

The Figure of the Continuum. Exemplified for the Categories “Sex/Gender” and “Migration
Tuesday, 12th September | 9:00 – 10:30

Starting from the end of the late 60th of the last century in Western Europe and North America, the contribution shows, how the heteronormative binary perspective on the category of sex/gender and on the category of migration switched to a pluralistic and polypolar one.

Based on the existent pluralities of real lives, categories which are constructed on a binary and heteronormativ basis, could only take into account a more or less extended part of the lived realities. The whole and complexe reality would never be « seen ».

Respecting the more and more ongoing debates and considerations of so called trans- and inter-sex/gender as normalities next to femininity and masculinity, the “old” binary, bipolar and antagonistic order “male-female” can be seen in its limitation, which evokes to search for ways to overstep such “frontiers”. One way is to broaden the concept of gender by considering all genders – trans, inter, male, female and all at the very moment still unknown ones – as situated on the same level of a continuum. The figure of the continuum opens the perspective to estimate all genders as equal and eliminates the more or less hidden hierarchization of a consideration of trans- and inter-sex/gender as so called 3rd or 4th gender, located between or in-between male and female or in a third or even fourth space. With this new and broader definition of sex/gender as a continuum, femininity and masculinity are losing their “frame work character”. But not only the relation between the two “old” poles are to be discussed but also a new light could be shed on the conceptualisation of femininity and masculinity as such.

Sex/gender as a continuum is based on the four interacting and changeable dimensions: physical,  psychological, social, and sexual which bring the body, the emotion, the behavior, the desire in  a permanent communication between each of them and a possible shifting. The shifting is to be considered for the biographical and the diachronic time line, which leads to the complex variability of sex/gender with a polypolar profile. The figure of Gender as a Continuum oversteps the concept of the  gender category as a binary, dichotomous and heteronormative structural category of societal orders. (Baltes-Löhr 2014, ²2015, 2017).

In the second part of the contribution, the figure of the continuum will be transferred in the field of migration by asking how far the bipolar setting of a presumed contradiction between migration as movement and settledness as form of “staying home” reflects the complex and plural reality of human beings. Also the category of migration will be approaches by using the four dimensions of the continuum. The plurality of forms and variations when it comes to moving and staying, by feeling as migrant or not, by being considered as migrant by the person on move itself or by the so called “others”  and the desire of reaching a country region or a status as person in a new setting.

As in the field of sex/gender we can no more speak of the femininity, the masculinity, the trans- and inter- sex/gender, the migration, the migrant, the reason for travelling or staying and the destination or the desire for reaching a specific area – but we can speak of the complex plurality.