Maria Nengeh Mensah

Friday the 10th of August, 1pm – 2pm
With Simultaneous translation from French to English

Sexualities and Social Work: Between the Will to Know, Invisibility and Resistance 
Starting with the idea that “sexuality” concerns the uses of the body and, more generally, the social construction of these uses, this keynote aims to retrace the ways in which the domain of social work has addressed human sexualities. The format and organization of these practices determines a set of rules and norms, which vary based on the time period and society. My aim here is the describe how social work has played a role in the formation of social problems related to systems of sex / gender / desire (runaways, sexual violence, parenting, women’s labour, nuclear family, homophobia, trans realities, etc.); the establishment of the identities of those targeted by social work practice (understood as both dangerous and in danger); and the development of (feminist) advocacy for social justice for various sexual and gender diversity communities. This presentation will draw from archival documents as well as from various action-research projects I have undertaken with Quebec-based groups. As a result, the history of tensions between the social workers’ will to know, the invisibility of sexuality issues and the resistance of directly affected communities will be highlighted. In conclusion, I interrogate the production of histories focused on queer and non-binary people, people living with HIV and people with sex work experience. Are we witness to an evolution, a change?

Maria Nengeh Mensah, PhD Communication, is full professor at the School of Social Work and the Institute of Feminist Research and Studies at UQAM. She has lead the “Cultures du témoignages” research team since 2010. As an engaged researcher, she has conducted research-action projects that brings together communities with academia to address issues related to the stigmatization and social inclusion of sexual and gender diverse communities. She has notably collaborated for many years with the organisations Stella l’amie de Maimie, COCQ-SIDA and GRIS-Montréal. Professor Mensah is author of three monographs and recipient of the excellence in teaching award within the faculty of human sciences at UQAM in 2012.