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Languages, Cultures and Visual Studies

Photo of Professor João Florêncio

Professor João Florêncio

Honorary Professor


01392 724334


I am a queer cultural theorist of the body. My research draws from queer studies, media studies, visual culture and cultural studies to investigate the ways in which the queer body has been produced, policed, and contested as a political site of creative and affective sexual world-making in modern and conntemporary cultures. 

I am currently an Honorary Professor in Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter, and Professor of Gender Studies and Chair of Sex Media and Sex Cultures at Linköping University, Sweden.

My monograph Bareback Porn, Porous Masculinities, Queer Futures: The Ethics of Becoming-Pig (Routledge, 2020) analyses contemporary gay "pig" masculinities, which have developed alongside antiretroviral therapies, online porn, and new sexualised patterns of recreational drug use. It examines them and their pornographic representations, speculating on their ethical and biopolitical dimensions in relation to modern European histories, ideologies and conceptualisations of the male body.

Book reviews: 

The work of João Florêncio, therefore, contributes to a widening and greater understanding of our conventions of gender and sexuality. […] Fleeing from simplistic answers and solutions, the author demonstrates how much the relationships between these elements are often contradictiory and with recurrent dislocations, and that the "norm" and the "transgression" can even walk together, inhabiting the same practice (or the same desire). And this is the power of the liminal and frontier space, since it is in these fissures that lines of flight are presented, alternative paths can be taken and new world(s) are possible. [Victor Hugo de Souza Barreto, Norma: International Journal for Masculinities Studies 16(2)]

While facing significant criticism both from national cultures that prefer their gay men sexlessly monogamous and from gay leaders who view pig sex as self-indulgent backsliding, gay "pig" masculinities, as Florêncio terms them, have enabled forms of queer world-making that harbor a potential for ethical and political transformation. Far from idealistic, Florêncio is in fact well aware that gay pig masculinities are inextricable from a mode of modern biopower that operates at the level not just of bodies and populations but also of hormones and molecules. Still, as he passionately and often convincingly argues, it's in the pig's creative use of antiretroviral drugs, and not in the screeds of Larry Kramer or the white papers of Mayor Pete, that many gay men have found what HIV and the phobic politics it inspired threatened to deny them: a queerer path to the future. […]

While there are moments when Florêncio's book feels a little too familiar, there is much to be excited about, including a valuable framework and a useful set of conceptual tools with which to take porn studies and masculinity studies into the next decade. [Steven Ruszczycky, Postmodern Culture 31(3)


I am currently finishing a new book project titled Crossings: Creative Ecologies of Cruising to be published with Rutgers University Press in 2025. Co-written with artist Liz Rosenfeld, it will be part autotheoretical speculation, part critical reflection, on the ethics, politics and ecologies of the (chiefly) gay male practice of cruising for sex. 

My new research project, entitled "The Europe that Gay Porn Built, 1945-2000" will map the enmeshment of politics, transnational solidarity, community and the erotic in gay pornographic magazines circulating in postwar Europe. The research will take place beween 2023 and 2027, it is a collaboration between myself (Linköping University/University of Exeter), Professor Jana Funke (University of Exeter), Professor John Mercer (Birmingham City University), the Bishopsgate Institute (London), and the Schwules Museum (Berlin, and it has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through their Standard Research Grants scheme.

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Sex and sexualities are ubiquitous presences in contemporary media cultures and public discourse, from health panics surrounding the effects of easily-accessible online pornography, to ongoing (and age-old) moral panics about "good" sex and "bad" sex, fears of "sexualisation", or the growing market for all kinds of sex technologies: porn, sex toys, sexual performance drugs (Viagra, Cialis, etcetera), recreational drugs (GHB, crystal methamphetamine, cathinones, etcetera), online sex work (OnlyFans, JustForFans), dating and hook-up apps (Grindr, Tinder, Recon, Hinge, Scruff, etcetera).

In my research, I approach sex cultures as pillars of modern and contemporary forms of subjectivation, centring the role and affordances of different media in producing, disseminating, and sustaining different sex cultures and sexual subjects. I am particularly interested in queer sex media and sex cultures: from the ways in which sex and pornography have informed queer people's ways of understanding themselves and relating to one another—operating as one of many sources for a sexual pedagogy of the queer self—to modern and contemporary forms of queer sociability centred around sex and sexual experiments with the body's affects, pleasures, and desires. A core preoccupation of mine is the roles that both queer sex media and sex cultures have historically had (and continue to have) as mediators of broader ideas about ethics, kinship, belonging and politics that sometimes resonate with, sometimes diverge from, institutionalised hegemonic framings of intimacy and relations of self and other.

These research interests have led me to research and write on topics such as gay porn; cruising, public sex, and the public/private divide; queer club cultures; queer cultures of drug use; HIV and AIDS cultures; barebacking, fluid exchanges and the production of the body in contemporary gay "pig" sexual subcultures; the cultural dimensions of narratives of infection and immunity (e.g. relating to HIV or COVID-19); histories of homosexuality in relation to forms of citizenship (including sexual citizenship) idealised by contemporary nation-states; etc.

Despite being focused on what may be perceived as a wide diversity of topics, all my work nonetheless reflects my interest in the ways in which modern and contemporary queer bodies (like all bodies) can only ever be grasped from within the wider assemblages of flesh, technologies, institutions, medical and legal discourse, consumption rituals, sexual practices, cultural formations and media infrastructures of which they are always part and through which they necessarily constitute themselves, however provisionally.​

Awards, Grants, and Prizes

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