Friday 14 April 2023
11.00 - 13.00
Sexual Deviance in East-Central and Southeastern Europe
Aleksandra Kumala :
Rejecting the Condition of a Unmanly Victim. Concentration Camp Homosexuality in August Kowalczyk’s Oral Testimony
The paper offers an culturally-oriented analysis of August Kowalczyk’s—Polish actor and former concentration camp prisoner—oral testimony given to the USC Shoah Foundation back in 1998. Revisiting the testimony in 2023 and focusing exclusively on the depictions of homosexual experiences in the concentration camp, the paper shows to what extent Kowalczyk’s ... (Show more)
The paper offers an culturally-oriented analysis of August Kowalczyk’s—Polish actor and former concentration camp prisoner—oral testimony given to the USC Shoah Foundation back in 1998. Revisiting the testimony in 2023 and focusing exclusively on the depictions of homosexual experiences in the concentration camp, the paper shows to what extent Kowalczyk’s narrative is framed heteronormatively (Butler 1990) and maps out the variety of methods he is using in order to, firstly, distance himself from the position of a potential victim, and, secondly, distinguish himself from the nonheteronormative kapo appearing in one of the witness’ vivid memories.
The issues discussed include discursively activating the stereotypical, symbolic differences between maleness and femininity, turning around power dynamics between then-prisoner and the functionary, performing one’s agency and predominance—all of it in an ex-post manner—as well as understanding vulnerability as something uncommon, unmanly and, for that reason, undesirable in terms of one’s reputation. The critical reflection also includes pointing out significant differences between Kowalczyk’s oral testimony one-sided take on the issue of male homosexuality and his willingness to expose much more diversified version of his experiences in his memoir published in 1995. The question is also being asked about the role of Kowalczyk’s acting skills and their influence on the process of creating an convincing, seemingly complete testimony.
Methodological framework is being constructed with the usage of Fritz Schütze’s term Ausblendung and supplemented with the scholarly reflection upon the topic of wartime (homo)sexuality, (homo)sexual violence and its relations with gender norms (Hájková 2020, G?owacka 2020, Féron 2018). Bearing witness is thus seen as a process of performing and maintaining—throughout the whole interview—a certain identity (Thompson 1978, Filipkowski 2010), appealing both to the witness and the interviewer, but also fitting in socially and culturally accepted norms. (Show less)
Michal Narozniak :
Queer Fantasy, Masturbation and Knowledge: Case Study of a Memoir from L’viv, 1913-1914
Memoir of a Homosexual Men, 1913-1914, is an exceptional manuscript archived in Ossolineum Scientific Institute in Wroclaw, Poland. Collected by the institution in L’viv in 1939, as a 100 page testimony of psychopathic tendencies – same sex desire – was written in Polish by an anonymous author just before World ... (Show more)
Memoir of a Homosexual Men, 1913-1914, is an exceptional manuscript archived in Ossolineum Scientific Institute in Wroclaw, Poland. Collected by the institution in L’viv in 1939, as a 100 page testimony of psychopathic tendencies – same sex desire – was written in Polish by an anonymous author just before World War One in the Habsburg Galicia’s capital city. The author was passionately in love with Stanislaw, the adolescent son of the family, from which he rented a room. The memoir itself was constructed as a letter to Stanislaw, that combined confession of love and coming out as a men-loving man. Additionally, the author used the writing process as an pornographic aid in masturbation, in detail describing his sexual fantasies with Stanislaw.
The aim of my paper is to present what factors played out in the construction of masturbatory fantasies found in the Memoir. By using literature stemming from E. Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the closet and M. Foucault’s History of Sexuality, I try to determine how the experience of being silenced by criminal codes and middle class morality, as well as promises of liberation brought by confessing, determine the setting of the fantasy sex scenarios. I show how the author changed his fantasies with learning from continuous failed attempts to organize a safe and intimate setting for a possible confession and sexual encounter with Stanislaw (with theoretical aid of J. Halberstam, Queer Art of Failure). Further, I show how fragments of European homosexual culture at the fin de siècle, particularly Oscar Wilde and tropes of Ephebophilia, shaped the Author’s idea of homosexuality as aristocracy of pleasure. It resulted in developing of more and more intricate and extraordinary sexual positions. Lastly, the Author, out of queer loneliness, had to create his own individual strategies of sexual pleasure. An example of such strategies is a practice of stealing Stanislaw’s underwear from a common laundry basket, and replacing it with another pair stole a week before. Such practices then resulted with smell being the most important sense in sexual arousal, what I connect with inability to use voice. (Show less)
Stephanie Rieder-Zagkla :
Forbidden Relations. Addressing Adultery in Divorce Records between 1900 and 1938
Until the introduction of civil marriage in Austria in 1938, marriages of Catholic spouses could only be terminated by the death of the spouse. Marital ties often bound husband and wife together not only economically and spatially, but also sexually: Both spouses were committed to marital sexual intercourse.This commitment was ... (Show more)
Until the introduction of civil marriage in Austria in 1938, marriages of Catholic spouses could only be terminated by the death of the spouse. Marital ties often bound husband and wife together not only economically and spatially, but also sexually: Both spouses were committed to marital sexual intercourse.This commitment was characterized by exclusiveness and was also secured by criminal law: sexual intercourse with a person other than the spouse could still be prosecuted in Austria in the first half of the 20th century.
However, this regulation applied not only to the level of criminal law but also to that of civil law: a marriage between two persons who had previously committed adultery with each other was invalid (if the adultery was proven before the marriage). Similarly, adultery was a reason for divorce. A divorce from bed and board allowed even catholic spouses to live separately, while the marital bond still remained in force. In divorce proceedings from the beginning of the 20th century, adultery is often discussed, addressed and (in the case of a judgement also legally) evaluated.
On the basis of approximately 500 divorce proceedings from the area of today's Vienna and Lower Austria between 1900 and 1938, this paper will examine in which ways and by which individuals adultery was negotiated before the civil courts. Moreover, the regulations of extra-marital desire will be investigated: with the help of the civil court files, it can be reconstructed whether cheated spouses had initiated legal proceedings against their spouses or a third person, and how they presented adultery as a reason for divorce. They also afford us insights into which justification strategies the spouses employed in court and they show possibilities for agency in the courtroom.
Extramarital relations were thus regulated by law in many respects and the spouses' agency depended among other things on their gender, religion, economic dispositions and social background. For a better investigation of all these divorce records this paper will seek an intersectional approach by taking all these categories into account. In addition, it will be taken into consideration that extramarital sex was not always a consensual practice.
It was not until 1997 that adultery was declared exempt from punishment in Austria, but it is under certain circumstances still considered a reason for divorce. The paper covers a long timespan to look at the development from criminalization to decriminalization of adultery in the 20th century. (Show less)
Dimitra Vassiliadou :
Redressing Sexual Crimes in Post-Civil War Greece
Drawing on court cases of sexual violence from the Aegean islands, in this paper I am interested in the overlaps and the discrepancies between legal and extrajudicial culture in postwar Greece. I am focusing especially on the 1950s and 1960s, a period of important political and social unrest, and ... (Show more)
Drawing on court cases of sexual violence from the Aegean islands, in this paper I am interested in the overlaps and the discrepancies between legal and extrajudicial culture in postwar Greece. I am focusing especially on the 1950s and 1960s, a period of important political and social unrest, and more specifically on the settlement attempts over incidents of rape and sexual abuse of children, and the discussions around them before the court, when perpetrators, victims, and their families failed to reach an agreement.
The reach of the judicial mechanisms outside of urban Greece is largely unknown, as is the level of importance that courts held for these agricultural societies with their long tradition of customary laws and their own way of resolving interpersonal disputes. During the first two post-war decades, as the islands were coming out of the rough 1940s ? which had been plagued by the Second World War, the German Occupation and the Civil War that followed ? their populations, mainly farmers and stock breeders, were getting accustomed to interpersonal violence that left its mark on gender, family, and sexual relations.
The harm caused to the victims was undermining the dominant moral codes and compensation in money or material goods was neither a direct nor an obvious gesture, as would be, for instance, with a compensation regulating a financial loss. The harm, after all, varied across time and place, and the compromise between the two parties was an attempt at ‘making right’ very different and incomparable things: the loss of sexual purity and the debasement of a girl's marital value, the birth of an illegitimate child, the moral castigation of the victim and its family within their community, physical injuries (sometime severe), venereal infections, the trauma, fear, and shame that a sexual assault provoked, the violation of the moral and legal obligation to protect children, and so on so forth. I will argue that individuals, although recognized such harms as serious, sometimes chose to trade them off with money, a fact which signified the continuation of their customary practices in resolving interpersonal disputes. (Show less)