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Modernization of Sexuality and the Construction of Deviance in Soviet Lithuania


While the hostile attitudes towards LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people in Eastern Europe are often attributed to the legacy of the Soviet past, scholarly research on the history of sexuality and its management in state-socialism is still lacking. The main goal of this research project is to provide the first rigorous historical analysis of the construction of queer sexuality as “deviance” in medical, criminological, educational, and other discourses and practices in Soviet Lithuania (1945-1990). Besides from this goal, additional objectives of this project are: 1) to analyse the production of queer subjectivities and the boundaries of agency of queer people in the context of socialist modernization, thus questioning the assumption about the Soviet period as merely repressive; 2) to contribute to a more nuanced and less heteronormative historical understanding of the development of modern sexuality in the Soviet Union through a close engagement with queer and feminist theory; 3) to develop a conceptual toolbox, informed by postcolonial and decolonial approaches, to the historical study of sexuality in the context of Soviet Lithuania, in this way broadening the Western-centered theoretical framework of queer studies; and 4) to join the scholarly debates on sexuality and gender within the Cold War context, the modern history of sexuality in Europe, and the cultural history and intellectual history of state-socialism. In order to achieve these goals and objectives, the project combines archival research with oral history in the examination of the construction of sexual “deviance” and the limits of queer resistance in the context of Soviet Lithuania. Employing the insights from queer and postcolonial studies, the research will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the development of modern discourses of sexuality and contemporary queer identities in Europe, and will question the narrative of modernization as sexual liberation.

Call for proposal

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Universitatsring 1
1010 Wien
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 174 167,04