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Greek Homonationalism: Entanglement of Sexual Politics with Issues of Race and Nationalism in the Case of Lesbian and Gay Movements and Queer Activist Groups in Greece

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HomoPolitics (Greek Homonationalism: Entanglement of Sexual Politics with Issues of Race and Nationalism in the Case of Lesbian and Gay Movements and Queer Activist Groups in Greece)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-08-31

Contemporary lesbian, gay and queer rights movements in Europe occupy a vital role in local, national and international politics, mobilising a wide range of diverse sub-groups and interests. In light of transnational migration, investigating who is included and who is excluded within these movements is a critical project. Focusing specifically on the case of Greek lesbian and gay rights movements and the recently emergent queer activist groups, the research goal of HomoPolitics has been to address, through the use of innovative qualitative methodologies, the entanglement of sexual politics with issues of race and nationalism. Its main research question has been: what narratives, images, symbols and representations do Greek lesbian and gay movements and queer activist groups utilise in order to assert their rights to citizenship and who is left out of the imagined “us” they construct? The project has adopted an intersectional and interdisciplinary perspective in order to explore unequal power relations and practices of exclusion within the movements and groups themselves. Indeed, this is a timely and urgent undertaking since a large number of immigrants, refugees and asylum-seeking populations have arrived in Greece, some of them making sexuality-based refugee or asylum claims. In this light, by having analysed attempts at the integration of gay, lesbian and queer immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers into the Greek society, the project has aligned with one of the cross-cutting priorities of H2020−Migration. The overall objective of the project has thus been to explore the entanglement of sexual politics with issues of race and nationalism in the case of lesbian and gay rights movements and queer activist groups in Greece.
HomoPolitics was designed to be an interdisciplinary and intersectional research project since it combined gender and sexuality studies, citizenship studies and social movements studies as well as the application of innovative qualitative research methodologies. The work thus that has been performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by this report is: (a) Collection of archival material produced by both past and more recent LGBT movements and queer groups acting in Greece. In total, 35 different LGBTQ magazines have been published in Greece since the fall of dictatorship in 1974 until today, (b) Analysis of this archival material in two different ways: i) I used critical discourse analysis in order to trace the crucial moments during which different Greek lesbian and gay rights movements and queer activist groups have emerged, developed and operated within the local context since the fall of dictatorship in 1974 until today, ii) I conducted a visual analysis of the images, symbols and representations that the Greek lesbian and gay movements and queer activist groups draw on to highlight who is left out of the imagined “us” they construct.
The above analyses have enabled me to understand the ways in which the LGBT movements and queer groups in Greece articulate their identities (sexual, national, racial) and political messages within a particular national context. Specifically, the main results achieved so far are:
(a) In relation to the Greek context, although Greek nationalism—especially after the rise of the neofascist Golden Dawn party in 2012—has been well-documented, with the exception of a handful of studies,its ethno-racial roots have remained largely unexplored. This means that, until now, Greek nationalism has been mainly theorised as being detached from race in the constitution of Greek subjectivity, with both race and nationalism representing external elements in the understanding of the national self. My own analysis and theorisation showed that whiteness, by remaining unmarked and hidden behind a colour-indifferent, victimisation-driven and gender and sexuality “neutral” conception of the nation, constitutes the core element in the realisation of the Greek national self.
(b) Following the above, within the field of Modern Greek studies, LGBT and queer subjects have been approached exclusively in terms of their erotic, emotional, and sexual practices rather than intersectionally in terms of their positionality as national—let alone racial—subjects. This conceptualisation arbitrarily implies that national and racial identifications maintain a secondary register in the formation of sexual subjectivities. My own analysis showed that the way in which the local LGBT and queer subjects experience their sexuality is inextricably tied to their Greekness and thus whiteness.
(c) The meaning of gender and sexuality in the local context has been perceived as being disconnected from cultural contexts outside Greece or as remaining immune to cultural interactions with non-white migrant and refugee communities. Whereas, in my reading, local discourses concerning gender and sexuality become instrumental in the ability to self-represent as “a Westerner”, and thus “progressive”, or as a “non-Westerner”, and thus “backward”—or both.
(d) In the archival material, there are many images and discourses linking modern Greece to Ancient Greece (work in progress).
The above results have been/will be disseminated through conferences, books and open-access publications in scientific journals.
HomoPolitics has examined the entanglement of sexual politics with race and nationalism with the aim of providing insights into unequal power relations and practices of exclusion within lesbian and gay rights movements and queer activist groups in Greece. Although the aforementioned movements and groups have appeared in a limited number of studies, lesbians, gay men and queer subjects have been approached as exclusively sexual beings and oppressed minority groups in relation to the national heterosexual majority while their status as national subjects in relation to newly-arrived racial and ethnic “others” has remained unexplored. Therefore, HomoPolitics has been the first study to explicitly address Greek homonationalism within the current social, economic and cultural turbulent landscape. The societal implications and impact of the project so far are: (a) a timely and politically important contribution: In light of the new demographic challenges Europe, in general, and Greece, in particular, are facing today, the project has thus been politically important and timely in its engagement with the rise of nationalist sentiments and racist and xenophobic reactions at a macro-level in dialogue with the everyday experiences of exclusion on a micro-level, (b) a distinctive interdisciplinary contribution: HomoPolitics has contributed to the reworking on certain Western-centric vocabularies and types of rights claims and it has informed theoretical debates over sexuality, citizenship and nationalisms and has attempted to advance sexualities equalities measures more generally, (c) a decisive intervention of public relevance and application: The research findings have responded to a societal challenge, attempts at the integration of gay, lesbian and queer immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers into the Greek society, and have the potential to become applicable to different contexts (academic communities, civil rights movements, policy-makers, the wider public).
4th of March 2021, International Women's Day, Banner against Sexism and Islamophobia