- Edited by Robert Kulpa, Birkbeck College, London and Joanna Mizieliñska, Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland
De-Centring Western Sexualities critically assesses the current state of knowledge about sexualities outside the framings of 'The West', by focusing on gender and sexuality within the context of Central and Eastern Europe. Providing rich case studies drawn from a range of "post-communist" countries, this interdisciplinary volume brings together the latest research on the formation of sexualities in Central and Eastern Europe, alongside analyses of the sexual and national identity politics of the region. Engaged with current debates within queer studies surrounding temporality and knowledge production, and inspired by post-colonial critique, the book problematises the Western hegemony that often characterises sexuality studies, and presents local theoretical insights better attuned to their geo-temporal realities. As such, it offers a cultural and social re-evaluation of everyday life experiences, and will be of interest to sociologists, queer studies scholars, geographers and anthropologists.
Contents: Introduction: why study sexualities in Central and Eastern Europe?, Robert Kulpa and Joanna Mizielinska; 'Contemporary peripheries': queer studies, circulation of knowledge, and East/West divide, Joanna Mizielinska and Robert Kulpa; Between walls: provincialisms, human rights, sexualities and Serbian public discourses on EU integration, Jelisaveta Blagojevic; Nations and sexualities – 'West' and 'East', Robert Kulpa; A short history of the queer time of 'post-socialist' Romania, or, are we there yet? Let's ask Madonna, Shannon Woodcock; Travelling ideas, travelling times. On the temporalities of LGBT and queer politics in Poland and in the 'West', Joanna Mizielinska; Researching transnational activism around LGBTQ politics in Central and Eastern Europe: activist solidarities and spatial imaginings, Jon Binnie and Christian Klesse; Rendering gender in lesbian families: a Czech case, Katerina Nedbálková; The heteronormative panopticon and the transparent closet of the public space in Slovenia, Roman Kuhar; Heteronormativity, intimate citizenship and the regulation of same-sex sexualities in Bulgaria, Sasha Roseneil and Mariya Stoilova, Situating intimate citizenship in Macedonia: emotional navigation and everyday queer/kvar grounded moralities, Alexander Lambevski; Index.
About the Editor: Robert Kulpa is completing his Ph.D. at Birkbeck College, London and Joanna Mizieliñska is Professor of Sociology at the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland, and Visiting Professor of Gender Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Reviews: 'De-Centring Western Sexualities advances critical studies of sexualities and sexual politics in significant and inspiring ways. The authors provocatively question the "Western" focus of sexuality studies and highlight the consequences of Central and Eastern Europe’s absence from recent queer critiques. This valuable collection offers essential new perspectives on the marketization of (homo)sexuality and the functioning of heteronormativity in these countries.'
Gavin Brown, University of Leicester, UK and co-editor of Geographies of Sexualities
'De-Centring Western Sexualities is a landmark volume in the study of gender and sexuality. Kulpa and Mizielinska have gathered here and framed some of the very best essays on discourses of sexuality in the context of Central and Eastern Europe. Not content to simply mark distinctions between East and West, the US and the rest, local and global, the editors' introduction and many of the essays here actually retheorize concepts of temporality, spatiality and sociality in the process of asking after the meaning of sexuality outside of its framing in "the West". Ranging in topic from heteronormativity to lesbian families, from transnational activism to queer temporalities and combining social science methodologies with theoretical inquiries, this collection is as broad as it is deep and it creates many new contexts for rethinking sexuality and de-centering the West.'
Judith Halberstam, University of Southern California, USA, author of In a Queer Time and Place
'While the academic study of gender in post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has generated a significant body of literature, the number of works dealing with sexuality - and in particular non-heterosexuality - remains minimal. Robert Kulpa and Joanna Mizielińska’s edited collection is thus a welcome addition to this neglected field. The editors are to be congratulated for having provided cohesion by encouraging all the contributors to situate their research in the context of CEE’s relationship with the ‘West’. As a result the collection seeks not only to present the insights of scholars from and/or working on this under-analysed region - an important aim in itself - but also to challenge and ‘unsettle Western perspectives in queer studies… while one is unlikely to be convinced by all the contributions in any edited volume - and this is especially true of a volume such as this, which comprises research adopting a range of theories and methods - this should also be viewed as a strength, forcing the reader to engage with controversial approaches and question long-held assumptions about this central but under-researched aspect of social life.'
Slavonic and East European Review
'While there may have been continuous, emancipatory developments in LGBTIQ politics in west Europe, all activist strategies and all theoretical developments seem to have coincidentally impacted on the diverse communities of the East since the fall of the wall. Robert Kulpa and Joanna Mizielinska literally talk of a 'knot' of geo-temporal coincidences which spilled over the wall: homophile movements, identity-political gay and lesbian organisations which are primarily interested in legal equality and inclusion into a (hetero) normality, as much as queer approaches and groups, which are less interested in assimilation than for the destabilisation of societal walls…This is a necessary book which achieves to document the complex nature of hegemonic structures in a way that allows to unsettle the representation of 'inside and outside'.'
'De-centering Western Sexualities' is a necessary academic ear trumpet for us to learn to learn to listen in for particular ideas present in cacophony of 'Western' Queer voices that are shouting out for their rights… 'Decentering Western Sexualities' makes a lot of excellent points about the differences in development(s) of Queer movements in varying capitalist and post-communist European Queer movements… give[s] a much clearer picture of modern European Queer citizenship, activist movements, and issues as they have been affected by the historical influences of communism and capitalism. 'De-centering Western Sexualities' gives an excellent insight and attempts a historical overview which asks academics to consider dual timelines of development, for which without an understanding of, the current conflicts within specific European Queer cultures and movements appear overly confusing and incongruent.'
'This is a theoretically well-informed collection of essays on the politics of sexuality, or intimacy, in several nations located in what is now often referred to as Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The strength of the volume derives from a common approach taken by the authors, which involves the analysis of local data in a way that challenges international, or global, theoretical categories and models, typically of Anglo-American origin… What I found especially valuable was the reliance in many of these essays on the discourse of local respondents to demonstrate the tensions and contradictions within contemporary CEE discourse on LGBTQ politics and the degree to which local queers introject and mimic that discourse… Overall, however, this volume offers a comprehensive look at an understudied topic and, in so doing, challenges the enduring temporal model of transition at the heart of identitarian politics, as well as dominant CEE notions of politics itself.'
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