Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Association for Queer Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Identity and Equity
Secondary Theme: Human rights
Since the end of state socialism and the unifying efforts of the Soviet Union, questions about LGBTI+ have gained increasing attention among anthropologists. In the region of Eastern Europe and Eurasia, LGBTI+ individuals face repression by state forces, as well as often by non-state actors attempting to reinforce their vision of traditional social values. Despite the importance of this narrative, this panel moves beyond discourses of oppression and repression to explore the resistance and resilience of LGBTI+ communities that are remaking the post-socialist world in ways that refuse domination from their own, local heteronormative expectations as well as those imposed from global LGBTI+ movements that also create and suggest limitations on possible LGBTI+ futures.
Early research on queer life in the post socialist world has argued that LGBTI+ subcultures have not developed around notions of identity creation and political claims based on shared identity, which has been the dominant framing for U.S.- and Western European-based LGBTI+ movements (Essig 1999). This has opened significant space for the research among LGBTI+ communities and movements in post-socialism as providing various kinds of critiques on mainstream LGBTI+ rights-based movements. Evidence from Eastern Europe and Eurasia can challenge dominant narratives of how LGBTI+ movements should organize their priorities, how LGBTI+ individuals imagine themselves in a hostile world, and what post-socialism can contribute to criticisms of mainstream queer theory.
Together, these papers use ethnographic research with LGBTI+ communities within and outside of post-socialist spaces to move toward a decolonizing practice in LGBTI+-oriented research. Using media analysis, performance studies, and critiques of neoliberalism, this panel engages with the potential contributions of post-socialism to critical queer studies from multiple angles. These papers reflect a multiplicity of voices that all fall into a broad community of LGBTI+ people, suggesting that no single narrative of LGBTI+ experience in post-socialism is more representative or informative than another. They are evidence of a globally flexible, infinitely malleable notion of LGBTI+ that counters Western hegemony in queer activism and communities.
Essig, Laurie. 1999 Queer in Russia: A Story of Sex, Self, and the Other. Durham: Duke University Press Books.