A new professorship of the history of sexualities has been established in Oxford University’s History Faculty in association with Mansfield college.
The Jonathan Cooper Chair of the History of Sexualities will expand the teaching and research into LGBTQ+ History at Oxford. It will be the UK’s first fully endowed position of its type when it launches in 2023.
The £4.9m endowment was donated by Professor Peter Baldwin and Dr Lisbet Rausing, who are historians and Co-Founders of the Arcadia Fund, a UK charity that provides grants for organisations working on human and natural diversity.
The donation was made in memory of the human rights lawyer and LGBTQ+ activist Jonathan Cooper who died last year. Cooper was renowned for his work on international human rights law, and for his advocacy on issues such as transgender rights, conversion practices, and the rights of people living with HIV. In 2011, he established the Human Dignity Trust to support strategic litigation overseas to challenge laws that persecute LGBTQ+ people.
Dr Kevin Childs, Jonathan’s husband, said: “Jonathan Cooper was many things – an enormously respected human rights lawyer, an activist for LGBTQ rights, the rights of indigenous peoples and the right to self-determination, as well as a believer in the rights to dignity and to living an authentic life, and a tireless advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS. But his first love was history and if there’d been space in his life for him to be anything else he would have been an historian. So, it is particularly fitting that this first Chair in the History of Sexualities is named after him, for it acknowledges his passion and love as much as his reputation.”
The University website states that the Jonathan Cooper Chair of the History of Sexualities is an “important milestone” for the field of LGBTQ+ History. “The existence of the Chair will act as a catalyst for developing scholarship in LGBTQ+ History at Oxford and also enable it to develop an interrelated series of courses to enhance the student experience, while attracting applicants who may not have considered pursuing study at Oxford before.”
Mansfield College is in the process of securing further funding to establish a research cluster around the Chair to nurture new scholars in this field of study.