Rationale

Sexualities, as keys to identity and as part of the public language of the nation, are a controversial feature of post-communist transition in Central and Eastern Europe. Radical political changes have led to the emergence of new social actors, such as the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) movement, the airing of new public discourses surrounding sexuality, as well as the eruption of new social conflicts and divisions.

This day-conference devoted to the study of non-normative (or ‘queer’) sexualities in Central-Eastern Europe is a forum to reflect on the diversity of issues and approaches in this new research area. The scarcity of scholarly work concentrating on this region, in queer theory, in studies of gay and lesbian experience in the past and present, and in the sexual politics of the marginalised, is a significant gap. Indeed the emergence of sexualities studies for Central-Eastern Europe challenges canonical theoretical and interpretive frameworks grounded in North American and Western European contexts.

‘Queering Central and Eastern Europe: National features of sexual identities’ adopts an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together scholars in the social sciences, history, Slavic and other area studies, as well as activists from LGBT communities, to examine the intersection of gender and nation as formative concepts for sexualities. How, for example, did the emergence of revised national identities after 1989 overlap with new conceptions of non-normative gender and sexuality? What were the local dimensions of the ‘lesbian and gay question’, and why did they emerge? How did queer sexualities in this region evolve historically, and what influence does that historical legacy impart today? What is unique about Central and Eastern European sexual identities, when compared within the region and with Western and other non-Western formations?

Programme

REPRESENTATIONS
  • Djurdja Knezevic: Nationalism, war, women and men in Croatia.
  • Anna Gruszczynska: Meanings of LGBT Marches in Poland.
  • Francesca Stella: Lesbian sexuality, visibility and everyday space in Russia.

HISTORIES
  • Adi Kuntsman: Same-sex Relations in the Gulag Memoirs.
  • Mark Cornwall: Prague’s Queer Space 1939-1945.
  • Dan Healey: Sodomy and Homosociability in Leningrad in the 1950s.

EAST/WEST
  • Nicola Mai: Albanian and Romanian young men migrating and selling sex.
  • Robert Kulpa: Queer Nation, or Why study nationalism with queer theories?
  • Joana Mizielińska: Limits of queer representation in Poland.