Preliminary Programme

Wed 12 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Thu 13 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Fri 14 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Sat 15 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00

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Wednesday 12 April 2023 08.30 - 10.30
F-1 SEX01 Baltic Queer Histories from the Late Soviet and Early Post-Soviet Era
B23
Network: Sexuality Chair: Arturas Tereškinas
Organizer: Rebeka Põldsam Discussant: Arturas Tereškinas
Moderators: -
Shaban Darakchi : Navigating “Perversity”: Classification and Control of Homosexuality in Bulgaria 1944-1989
In 1944 the newly established communist state in Bulgaria inherited a law prohibiting homosexuality with up to 6 months imprisonment. Although Bulgaria was not officially part of the Soviet Union the patologization and the regulation of homosexuality by Moscow were adapted into the moral policies of the Bulgarian communist state. ... (Show more)
In 1944 the newly established communist state in Bulgaria inherited a law prohibiting homosexuality with up to 6 months imprisonment. Although Bulgaria was not officially part of the Soviet Union the patologization and the regulation of homosexuality by Moscow were adapted into the moral policies of the Bulgarian communist state. In 1951 the imprisonment was extended to 3 years however in 1976 the Bulgarian authorities decided to “legalize” homosexuality and took it out as a crime from the new Penalty Code. The new legislation did not prohibit homosexual practices anymore but the public display of these continued to be treated as a crime up until 1989. Influenced by famous sexologist Todor Bostandjiev, homosexual behavior and practices were declared a disease, which must not be punished but rather cured. Politburo recommended a special program for “rehabilitation” and “readaptation” of homosexual individuals back into the “chaste” society. This, sometimes seen as a progressive step, strongly pathologized homosexuality and homosexual practices as “abnormal”, “deviant” and “sick”. These shifts of the “homosexual” policies in Bulgaria have remained unexplored for a long time. This study aims to overcome this gap of information and to provide detailed accounts regarding the control, classification and surveillance of homosexuality in communist Bulgaria. Based on 7 life stories by non-heterosexual males who had sexual life during communism; 45 court cases on homosexual behavior and practices and an examination of the medical literature between 1944 and 1989, this presentation aims to answer four main questions: (1) How was surveillance and classification of homosexuality by the Soviet Union adopted into Bulgarian context?; (2) How was surveillance and control of homosexuality institutionalized and what were the main institutions performing those?; (3) How was surveillance and control maintain in everyday life and what coping strategies were used by the individuals?; (4) What are the implications of surveillance and control of homosexuality in post-Soviet Bulgaria? (Show less)

Ineta Lipša : Criminal File on Hooliganism as an Insight into the Practices of Male Same-Sex Sexual Subculture: the 1966 Case of Sauna at Ziedo?d?rzs (Spring-time Park) in Riga
The absence of knowledge of same-sex sexual subcultures and their agents is characteristic of the Soviet era in Latvian history. One of the reasons why so little is known about the practices and tactics used by same-sex loving men is the marginalization of subcultures by the Soviet system that criminalized ... (Show more)
The absence of knowledge of same-sex sexual subcultures and their agents is characteristic of the Soviet era in Latvian history. One of the reasons why so little is known about the practices and tactics used by same-sex loving men is the marginalization of subcultures by the Soviet system that criminalized male same-sex intercourse. However, same-sex sexual subcultures in Soviet Latvia developed, navigating between the surveillance and non-interference of state authorities. The proposed paper will research the interaction between the monitoring of same-sex loving men by state authorities and elaborating on the practices and tactics by male queers responding to surveillance activities of state authorities in late Soviet Latvia. The comparative research of a criminal file on hooliganism charges and a diary written by a homosexual, Kaspars Aleksandrs Irbe, will reveal the agency of the accused men since the case was heard in several courts at different levels. (Show less)

Rasa Navickaite : In the Name of Love?: Gender Complementarity and Sexual Deviance in Late Soviet Lithuania
Since the 1960s, in socialist countries such as Poland and Czechoslovakia, the official concern with declining birth rates has prompted the state to attempt at a tighter control over sexuality, with the hope to redirect it to exclusively procreative goals (Koscianska 2016; Lišková 2018). Lithuanian SSR, which has so far ... (Show more)
Since the 1960s, in socialist countries such as Poland and Czechoslovakia, the official concern with declining birth rates has prompted the state to attempt at a tighter control over sexuality, with the hope to redirect it to exclusively procreative goals (Koscianska 2016; Lišková 2018). Lithuanian SSR, which has so far escaped historical scrutiny in this regard, was no exception in this regard. In the 1970s and the 1980s there was a number of books and leaflets published in Lithuanian SSR on the broadly defined topic of sexual education, expanding the state-sanctioned discourse on sexuality. Most of the books were translated works of sexologists from other socialist countries, such as Zycie seksualne. Psychohigiena (1970) (Sexual life, psycho-hygiene), by the Polish author Kazimierz Imielinski; Du und Ich (1959) (You and I), by the East German authors Danuta Weber and Gerhard Weber; and the extremely popular Milest ibas varda (1981) (In the name of love) by the Latvian author Janis Zalitis. The materials targeted married couples, as well as young people and their parents, and aimed to clearly define the norms and abnormalities in sexual and gendered development, hoping to eliminate the latter. They reinforced the idea of essential difference and complementarity of the sexes, with women being “naturally” passive and submissive, while men - aggressive and dominant. Through the use of scientific authority, these texts fortified the heteronormativity of Soviet society by depicting homosexuality and gender non-conformity as a disease, which can be cured or prevented by appropriate upbringing.
Employing the theoretical and methodological insights from queer studies this presentation focuses on the discursive construction of “normative” sexuality and heteronormative gender roles in the publications which appeared in late Soviet Lithuania, and the role that sexual deviance played in the reaffirmation of the norm. It draws parallels between the Lithuanian case study and the other countries of the socialist bloc, and compares the shifting discourses with the contemporary tendencies in the West. Finally, it asks how the Soviet discourses of gender complementarity and sexual deviance persevered into the post-socialist period and morphed into religious, traditionalist and nationalist discourses. (Show less)

Rebeka Põldsam, Riikka Taavetti : “I never was this theoretical lesbian type”: Memories and Experiences of Estonian-Finnish Lesbian Community from the Early 1990s
Due to geographical and linguistic proximity, Estonia and Finland have always had active relations. While there are traces of earlier transnational queer networks between these countries, a well-documented and vividly remembered period in these connections occurred during the years of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the restoration of ... (Show more)
Due to geographical and linguistic proximity, Estonia and Finland have always had active relations. While there are traces of earlier transnational queer networks between these countries, a well-documented and vividly remembered period in these connections occurred during the years of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the restoration of Estonian independence in the early 1990s. In particular, there were active networks and cross-border movement of lesbian women between Estonia and Finland.
In spring 1990 a group of Finnish activist, large majority of whom was women, attended the first conference Sexual Minorities and Society in Tallinn and Tartu that was the first public conference discussing homosexuality in the USSR. The conference culminated with the foundation of the first lesbian association in Estonia. The development of this association was closely followed in Finland, as the connections between Estonian and Finnish women were active during the first years of the 1990s. Women travelled across the Gulf of Finland regularly, spent summer solstices together playing football, couples moved together to Finland and during exchange student periods in neighbouring country women (as did men) experimented with same-sex desires.
In this presentation, we analyse these Estonian-Finnish lesbian communities both as experienced during the time as they were described in lesbian and gay press and other documentation, and as remembered in ethnographic interviews. We combine oral histories from both countries and experiment with different interview methods. We will pay particular attention to the different meanings given to these communities and ask how these connections shaped the identifications and activism in these countries, how the connections and relationships endured over time and how the meanings given to these communities and connections have changed in time. (Show less)

Karlis Verdinš : Latvian Queers after the Fall of the Iron Curtain: Between Fictionality and Documentality
The studies of Latvian queer history of the Soviet and post-Soviet times reveal the problem of visibility and representation characteristic of the local queer population. There are very scarce accounts of the queer life under the USSR occupation when male homosexuality was criminalized. Also after its decriminalization in 1992, the ... (Show more)
The studies of Latvian queer history of the Soviet and post-Soviet times reveal the problem of visibility and representation characteristic of the local queer population. There are very scarce accounts of the queer life under the USSR occupation when male homosexuality was criminalized. Also after its decriminalization in 1992, the number of gay activists in the Republic of Latvia was limited. The researchers have worked with several sources: Soviet police archives, interviews of the LGBT+ community members, diaries, as well as fictional accounts of the time. My paper is going to explore the situation of gay men in the period of transition by comparing the documentary accounts with the fictional ones. My sources include interviews conducted by me, newspaper and journal articles, as well as fiction by Latvian writers. As the comparison of fictional and documentary sources shows, there are different perspectives on the queer subculture of the period as well as memories of the past times. Mainstream publications tend to concentrate on the emotional side of queer life while underground publications or oral testimonies makes bigger emphasis on sexual experience and physicality. The chronological scope of my analysis stretches from the early 1980s, when homosexuality sporadically appears in some publications, till 2005 when the first Riga City Pride takes place and the secrecy of the previous era gives way to more open and effective fight for gay rights. (Show less)



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