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Research Guest Speaker, Antu Sorainen, University of Helsinki, and ILAS Fellow, Keele University,
Dr Antu Sorainen is currently the Director of the Academy of Finland funded Research Project CoreKin – Contrasting and Re-Imagining Margins of Kinship (2016-2020) and the Principal Investigator on the Research Project Will-Writing and Inheritance Arrangements in Sexually Marginalised Groups (2014-2019).
Her research interests include improving the methodology on re-imagining gendered and sexually marginalised kinship and care relations by contrasting data from divergent societies, and queer inheritance arrangements across Europe. Her study on sexualities in the legal arena combines qualitative and quantitative approaches.
Antu Sorainen: Lesbian Inheritance Arrangements
Based on an article draft for a Special Issue on Lesbians and Law of the Journal of Lesbian Studies (forthcoming in Jan 2019)
I will discuss the ways that the inheritance system influences on lesbian intimate relations and social practices. Inspired by Thomas Piketty’s work on the impact of the inheritance system on society, I complicate the inheritance system in the lesbian critique of law as something not solely to resist.
Based on two online surveys – one with lawyers (111 respondents in 2017 in English and Finnish), and the other with people who identify as members of sexually marginalised groups (1007 respondents, 2016 in English, Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, Swedish and Finnish) – I look at the specific questions about lesbian will-writing practices and inheritance arrangements. The survey data is backed with citations from ethnographic interviews from divergent countries.
Theoretically, the paper draws on the recent British queer socio-legal literature on will-writing as a potential “queer act” (Monk 2013; Westwood 2015). In particular, it explores the issues with the inheritance system (and lawyers) that the lesbian-identifying respondents brought up in the above-mentioned surveys and interviews: how often lesbians write wills; in which age they write wills; and do they experience specific problems with the inheritance law, lawyers or by family members and relatives in matters relating to inheritance arrangements.
Finally, the paper seeks to offer a point for a shared discussion on how queer kinship ties rely on constant everyday renegotiations and reconfigurations of legal norms and social expectations, and in which ways these take place between the legal and cultural categorizations and conceptualizations of gender, sexualities and kinship.