In Eastern Europe and Eurasia, LGBT+ individuals face repression by state forces and non-state actors who attempt to reinforce their vision of traditional social values. Decolonizing Queer Experience moves beyond discourses of oppression and repression to explore the resistance and resilience of LGBT+ communities who are remaking the post-socialist world; they refuse domination from local heteronormative expectations and from global LGBT+ movements that create and suggest limitations on possible LGBT+ futures. The chapters in this collection feature a multiplicity of LGBT+ voices, suggesting that no single narrative of LGBT+ experience in post-socialism is more representative or informative than another. This collection highlights the globally flexible, infinitely malleable notion of LGBT+ that counters Western hegemony in queer activism and communities.
Emily Channell-Justice is the director of the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program at the Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University.
Preface: Vitaly Chernetsky
Introduction: Of Constatives, Performatives, and Disidentifications: Decolonizing Queer Critique in Post-socialist Times (5606)
Tamar Shirinian and Emily Channell-Justice
Section 1: The Categories Themselves
Chapter 1: Body Politics, Trans*Imaginary, and Decoloniality (6859)
Chapter 2: Queering Categories: Recognition, Misrecognition, and Identity Politics in Armenia (7753)
Chapter 3: Escaping the Dichotomies of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’: Chronotopes of Queerness in Kyrgyzstan (6815)
Section 2: Queer in Public
Chapter 4: LGBT+ Rights, European Values, and Radical Critique: Leftist Challenges to LGBT+ Mainstreaming in Ukraine (7922)
Chapter 5: Queering the Soviet Pribaltika: Criminal Cases of Consensual Sodomy in Soviet Latvia (1960s-1980s) (7796)
Chapter 6: Queer People and the Criminal Justice System in Ukraine: Negotiating Relationships, Historical Trauma and Contemporary Western Discourses (7655)
Section 3: Decolonizing Queer Performance
Chapter 7: Stifled Monstrosities: Gender-Transgressive Motifs in Kazakh Folklore (7553)
Chapter 8: “Pugacheva for the People”: Two Portraits of Non-Urban Post-Soviet Queer Performers (7751)
Kārlis Vērdiņš and Jānis Ozoliņš
Chapter 9: Religious Experiences in Life Stories of Homosexuals and Bisexuals in Russia (6577)
Conclusion: Emily Channell-Justice (1820)
This edited volume adds to the existing literature on LGBT+ issues in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and does so within the particular theoretical framing of decolonization. Previous scholarship has placed much emphasis on global movements and "normative" identities without examining the ways these are specifically iterated within local contexts. The inclusion of Central Asia and the Caucasus is particularly welcome given the history of those regions vis-à-vis the Russian Empire and Soviet Union more broadly, within the context of colonization. While this book's nine essays are all grounded in particular field sites and historical events, they move beyond mere description to explore the ways that experience, performance, and identity intersect.... [Readers] with the necessary regional and theoretical background will find much to appreciate. Recommended.
The ethnographic and historical essays in this collection beautifully combine queer and decolonial theory to unearth and unpack a variety of forms of queerness in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. From “bad girl” lesbian activists in Kyrgyzstan to “consensual sodomy’ in Soviet Latvia back to gender transgression in Kazakh folklore then forward to the contemporary queer pairing of religion and LGBTQ persons in Russia, these essays deepen our understanding of queer lives in a part of the world that is too often constructed as uniformly straight and homo and transphobic. In fact, queers have always managed to live and even thrive in Eastern Europe and Eurasia and will continue to do so. These essays make that clear even as they deepen our understanding of how queer manifests differently in rural versus urban, Soviet or Post-Soviet regimes, and, of course, East vs. West.
By combining a focus on Eastern Europe and Eurasia with an attention to experience, performance, and narrative, this groundbreaking book contributes to our understandings of queer selfhood, community, and belonging. These perspectives broaden our theoretical frameworks and demonstrate the importance of this crucial region that links Europe and Asia. This book is a true achievement that will be valuable across a range of scholarly debates.