New Work in Queer Studies – A Workshop

The following workshop took place at Leuphana University of Lüneburg on Monday 4 July, 2022.

Queer Studies remains one of the most dynamic and generative fields within the humanities and social sciences. While it continues to serve as a site of critical interdisciplinary inquiry into questions of gender and sexuality, over the last three decades it has also steadily introduced and applied its own theoretical, methodological and analytic innovations to fields well beyond what has traditionally been considered the immediate remit of gender and sexuality studies.

This interdisciplinary workshop introduced and discussed New Work in Queer Studies, bringing together an international group of scholars and providing an opportunity to engage with their most recent (or forthcoming) work. It addressed gender and sexuality in ways that drew from History, Anthropology, and Performance Studies while taking up questions of representation, religion, political economy, agriculture and the image of the liberal city. The workshop was made up of the following four lectures:


  • Juana María Rodríguez (Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley): ‘Representing Desire, Desiring Representation: The Amazing Past of Adela Vazquez’
  • Omar Kasmani (Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Collaborative Research Center (CRC 1171) Affective Societies,  Freie Universität Berlin): ‘Introducing Queer Companions
  • Gabriel N. Rosenberg (Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies and of History, Duke University): ‘Hubert Goodale’s Feminized Cockerels: Industrial Chicken Breeding, Sex Control, and the Early History of Endocrinology’
  • Max Schnepf (Research Associate, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin) and Ursula Probst (Research Associate, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin): ‘Re,fracting Queer Berlin: Reflections on a City’s Liberal Image’

This workshop was organised by Ben Trott and hosted by the Gender and Diversity Research Network. It is open to all members of the university. It was financed in part via the Leuphana University of Lüneburg Gleichstellungsfond.

For more information, please write to:

Gender and Diversity Research Network:



Representing Desire, Desiring Representation: The Amazing Past of Adela Vazquez

Juana María Rodríguez

This talk looks at an array of biographical materials depicting the life of transgender activist Adela Vázquez to explore the limits of representation. Adela’s life story of being born in Cuba, migrating to the United States as a refugee as part of the Mariel boatlift, and living as a transgender activist in San Francisco has been documented in numerous ways, as a graphic narrative, as recorded oral history, and through documentary. Drawing on theories of representation from Judith Butler, Saidiya Hartman, and Édouard Glissant, Rodríguez asks what are the limits of representation? How does autobiography complicate narratives that attempt to unravel the ways we understand agency, desire, and sexuality? How do representational forms shape the subjective experiences of the life stories we are consuming? How do various forms of visual, textual, and digital documentation transform our affective encounters with the sexual lives of marginalized subjects across a lifetime?

Juana María Rodríguez is Professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley where she also holds appointments in Gender & Women’s Studies, and Performance Studies. She is the author of Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces, (2003); Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings (2014), and the forthcoming, Puta Life: Seeing Latinas, Working Sex (2023).


Introducing Queer Companions

Omar Kasmani

This presentation introduces my recently published book Queer Companions, which theorizes saintly intimacy and the construction of queer social relations at Pakistan’s most important site of Sufi pilgrimage. I will discuss the key conceptual threads as well as outline the book’s various chapters. Focusing on the life-stories of ascetics known as fakirs in Pakistan, these illustrate the felt and enfleshed ways in which saintly affections bind individuals, society, and the state in Pakistan through a public architecture of intimacy. In the book’s framework, Islamic saints become lovers and queer companions just as a religious universe is made valuable to critical and queer forms of thinking. In this regard, the presentation will include a discussion on the politics of reading “queer religiously”.


Omar Kasmani is a cultural anthropologist and post-doctoral research associate at the Collaborative Research Center (CRC 1171) Affective Societies at Freie Universität, Berlin. His work is situated across the study of contemporary Islamic life-worlds, queer and affect theory and queries critical notions of intimacy and post-migrant be/longing. He is the author of Queer Companions: Religion, Public Intimacy and Saintly Affects in Pakistan published by Duke University Press (2022). Also forthcoming with the same press in 2023 is an edited volume, Pak*stan Desires: Queer Gathering Elsewhere. Some of his recent publications include “Futuring Trans*in Pakistan” (Transgender Studies Quarterly, 2021) and “Critical Thin: Haunting Sufis and the Also-here of Migration in Berlin” (Religion and Society, 2021). He is currently developing his second monograph, which brings personal memoir to bear on an affective geography of post-migrant Berlin.


Hubert Goodale’s Feminized Cockerels: Industrial Chicken Breeding, Sex Control, and the Early History of Endocrinology

Gabriel N. Rosenberg

Transgender and queer studies scholars such as Eva Hayward, Kadji Amin, Jules Gill-Peterson, and Che Gossett all note that early “gender therapeutic” medicine and endocrinology centered the bodies of animals as important sites to study and induce gendered and sexual “plasticity.” These early experiments often proceeded from the assumption that animal bodies effectively modeled the sexual development and gendered expression of humans, a narrative that dovetails with the broader and widespread use of experimental organisms in the history of the life sciences. By contrast, this paper explores the political economic underpinnings of some of this research by examining the experiments of the geneticist Dr. Hubert Goodale and reading them against the political economic history of chicken farming in the early twentieth century United States. This approach discloses not only the importance of a multispecies account to histories of human gender and sexuality, but the animating powers of affect, fantasy, and desire within the applied life sciences and the broader food system that depends upon them.

Although Goodale would spend most of his career as the head geneticist at Mt. Hope Farm, an experimental poultry and dairy farm owned by John D. Rockefeller’s son-in-law in Williamstown, Massachusetts, he began his career as a laboratory assistant to the influential geneticist and eugenicist Charles Davenport at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island. In that capacity, Goodale conducted a series of experiments on ducks and chickens that involved grafting ovaries onto the wattles of live male juvenile birds. Goodale articulated his experimental interest in the sexual development of poultry in relationship to “sex control” as it was manifested as a problem for industrial livestock breeding and, namely, within the context of poultry egg production. He termed the results of his experiments a “feminized cockerel” in the pages of the Science in 1914 and his work was ultimately wound into the early literature of endocrinology. Its core mobilizing questions, however, came not from medical science, but from transformations in animal agriculture and the pressing demands of the emergent global system of “cheap food.”


Gabriel N. Rosenberg is Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and History at Duke University. His research investigates the historical and contemporary linkages among gender, sexuality, race, and the global food system. He earned his Ph.D. from Brown University in History. He has been the recipient of the Gilbert C. Fite Award and the Wayne D. Rasmussen Award from the Agricultural History Society, the K. Austin Kerr Prize from the Business History Conference, and a François André Michaux Fund Fellowship from the American Philosophical Society. He was the Duke Endowment Fellow of the National Humanities Center, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University’s Program in Agrarian Studies, an Early Career Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh's Humanities Center, and a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. His scholarly writing has appeared in journals such as the Journal of American History, American QuarterlyGLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian StudiesTSQ: Transgender Studies QuarterlyAgricultural History, and Diplomatic History. His public scholarship has been published in The New RepublicThe Washington PostThe Guardian, and many other publications.


Re,fracting Queer Berlin: Reflections on a city’s liberal image

Max Schnepf & Ursula Probst

Providing opportunities and refuge for those transgressing sexual and gendered norms, Berlin has acquired the image as a particularly liberal city. Conversing across our respective research projects, we question this unified imaginary of one Queer Berlin in a refracting move. The current Covid-19 pandemic serves as a starting point for this endeavor, since it has challenged the German capital’s status as a space for self-expression and sexual experimentation. Not only did health governance lead to the temporal or sometimes permanent closure of queer spaces, but pandemic biopolitics have reinforced moralisations of casual and transactional sex in the city. Expanding our conversation beyond pandemic sex, we attend to the fractures and dissonances between and within the fields of HIV-prevention and sex work in Berlin. We inquire what versions of the liberal city these fields and their ethnographers might produce and thus call into question the existence of a singular, liberal “Queer Berlin”. Instead, refraction bends and redirects the image of Berlin into a queer multipli-city.


Max Schnepf is a PhD candidate and Research Associate at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology (Freie Universität Berlin), interested in the intimate entanglements of biomedical technologies andconfigurations of gender and sexualities. As part of the research project “PrEPped Intimacies in Berlin”, he ethnographically investigates the new pharmaceutical HIV-prophylaxis PrEP and its transformative effects on the bodies, subjectivities and affective attachments of gay men in the urban context of Berlin.


Ursula Probst is a research associate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin. She recently finished her PhD on “Eastern European” migrants’ negotiations of embodied “European” subjectivities in Berlin’s sex industry. Ursula’s research focuses on the racialisation and sexualisation of “Eastern Europe” in Germany, sex work in the context of precarious labor markets, and a critical investigation of mobilities and freedoms in neoliberal Europe.




1:30 - 1:45 pm Introduction & Welcome

Ben Trott (Leuphana University)


1:45 - 2:45 pm ‘Representing Desire, Desiring Representation: The Amazing Past of Adela Vazquez’

Juana María Rodríguez (University of California, Berkeley)


3:00 - 4:00 pm ‘Introducing Queer Companions

Omar Kasmani (Freie Universität Berlin)


4:30 - 5:30 pm ‘Hubert Goodale’s Feminized Cockerels: Industrial Chicken Breeding, Sex Control, and the Early History of Endocrinology’

Gabriel N. Rosenberg ( Duke University)


5:45 - 6:45 pm ‘Re,fracting Queer Berlin: Reflections on a City’s Liberal Image’

Max Schnepf (Freie Universität Berlin) and Ursula Probst (Freie Universität Berlin)