The "Altenberg Workshops in Theoretical Biology" address key questions of biological theories. Each workshop is organized by leading experts of a certain field who invite a group of international specialists to the KLI. The Altenberg Workshops aim to make conceptual progress and to generate initiatives of a distinctly interdisciplinary nature.
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Topic description / abstract:
Although the variable nature of sex is tacitly recognized by many scientists, the imposition of binary sexes in research can be observed and experienced across scientific practices. For example, the enforcement of sex categories can be seen in the processes of "sexing" individuals or analyzing sex differences. This talk emerges from the discomfort of perpetuating these practices while finding my identity as a queer person. I draw upon scholars from various disciplines to develop an understanding for how I, as a scientist, relate to the context and consequences of scientific authority on "sex". I explore the many ways in which scientific definitions of sex are not adequate to encompass the diversity of biological systems and reflect the imposition of "compulsory sexuality" found in colonial European cultures, as described in Asexual theory. The current blossoming of work by scientists to change and challenge the existing dogma of sex from within science is exciting and encouraging, especially when paired with alternative knowledges for the use (or disuse) of sex.
Caitlin McDonough-Goldstein is a queer, feminist scientist studying the evolution of reproductive systems. They are currently a postdoctoral research at the University of Vienna and received their PhD from Syracuse University, their research has focused primarily on the imagining the evolution and function of interactions within the "female" or ovary-associated reproductive tract. Complementary to their research, Caitlin engages with critiques of science from STS and queer theory (among others) to question scientific norms around how science constructs understandings of sex and reproduction.