Many efforts have been made over the past several years to diversify Eastern European and Eurasian studies. This new spotlight surfaces research that has been conducted by many scholars for much longer, highlighting their commitment to telling stories and honoring perspectives of diverse and minority communities. Their work reveals that while there is no unified queer experience in the region, there is often a one-size-fits all state response to the reality of queer lives in many nations within the region. How can a queer-studies focus advance conversations about decolonization in East European and Eurasian Studies? To address this question, Queer Focus will have six virtual panels featuring speakers from various disciplines and institutions. Panelists and participants will explore how gendered regimes were constitutive of Russo-centric relationships of power, defining the region and how we study it, as we collectively grapple with what it means to re-examine our current research, teaching, and institutional practices.
Panel 5 of the series will examine the role of migration within queer studies in Eurasia and Eastern Europe.
Alexandra Novitskaya, Moderator, Title VIII Research Fellow, Kennan Institute/Woodrow Wilson Center, Research Affiliate at Indiana University
Alexandra Novitskaya's research interests include post-Soviet queer migration and asylum and politics and geopolitics of gender and sexuality. She is studying how contemporary political and state-sponsored homophobia in Russia and other post-Soviet states is informed by the geopolitical competition between Russia and the United States and especially their mutually constitutive discourses of sexual exceptionalisms; and the real and everyday life impact this discursive competition leaves on post-Soviet queer and LGBTQ Russian-speaking migrants and asylum-seekers. She has held visiting research appointments at the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia, New York University, and the Summer and Virtual Research Labs at the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has published articles and book chapters on post-Soviet LGBTQ migration and homophobia in Russia as well as on gender in Russian politics in NORMA: International Journal of Masculinity Studies, The Russian Review, Post-Soviet Affairs, and the Routledge Handbook of Gender in Central Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Together with Janet Elise Johnson, Lisa McIntosh-Sundstrom and Valerie Sperling she also wrote essays for The Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog and The Conversation. She is working on a book project about the experiences of post-Soviet Russian-speaking LGBTQ asylum seekers in New York as well as further investigating the politics of homo- and transphobia in Russia. Outside of academia, Alexandra has been volunteering as a translator and interpreter for immigration justice non-profits in the U.S. and LGBTQ initiatives in Russia, including the LGBT Film Festival Side-by-Side.
Mariya Levitanus, Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy, University of Edinburgh
Mariya Levitanus is a scholar, queer activist and psychotherapist, working as a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. Her previous and upcoming research and publications have focused on the role of Soviet discourses in the narratives of queer people in Kazakhstan, queer emigration and queer activism in Central Asia. Mariya's work foregrounds lived experiences, examining how the socio-political context shapes the everyday life in authoritarian regimes.
Randall Rowe, Assistant Professor of Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, University of Cincinnati
Randall Rowe is the Assistant Professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies –Annual Adjunct in the Department of Asian, East European and German Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He defended his dissertation “Mediated Social Hierarchies and Gender
& Sexuality in the Russian Federation” in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at The Ohio State University. He earned a BA from Michigan State University and MAs from Ohio State and New York University. He published a chapter in the 2022 volume, which was edited by Yana Hashamova, Oana Popescu-Sandu, and Sunnie Rucker-Chang, Cultures of Mobility and Alterity: Crossing the Balkans and Beyond.
Maryna Shevtsova, FWO Fellow, KU Leuven
Maryna Shevtsova is a Senior post-doctoral FWO Fellow at KU Leuven. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Humboldt University, Berlin, and is a Fulbright (University of Florida 2018/19) and Swedish Institute (Lund University 2020/2021) Alumna. Prior to starting her work at KU Leuven, she was an MSCA EUTOPIA Fellow at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is a co-founder of Equal Opportunities Platform, a Ukrainian NGO working towards combating discrimination and promoting gender equality. In 2022, she received the Emma Goldman Award for her work as a feminist scholar and human rights activist. Her research interests include LGBTQ rights and activism in Central and Eastern Europe, queer migration, and anti-gender movements. Her recent publications include the book, LGBTI Politics and Value Change in Ukraine and Turkey: Exporting Europe? (Routledge 2021) and an edited volume Feminist Perspectives of Russia's War in Ukraine: Hear Our Voices (upcoming with Lexington Books, February 2024).
Evgeny Shtorn, Doctoral Candidate in Political, Societal and Cultural Change, University of Helsinki
Evgeny Shtorn is a PhD candidate at the University of Helsinki. He is also a writer, activist, and researcher from St Petersburg. Due to his involvement in civil society work, he was forced to leave Russia in 2018. In 2019, he was granted international protection in the Republic of Ireland. He currently works as a Social and Cultural Diversity Consultant collaborating with different universities and civil society institutions. Evgeny’s writing has been published in academic journals, anthologies and new media outlets in Russia, Spain, Germany, and Ireland. As an activist, he has been involved in human rights and LGBT advocacy for almost two decades. He is a co-founder of Queer Diaspora Ireland, an initiative that supports LGBT refugees. His novel Refugee Chronicles, written in the Irish refugee camp, was published in St. Petersburg in 2020 with the introduction of Masha Gessen. The same year in recognition of his efforts Shtorn was awarded the GALAs Person of the Year by the National LGBT Federation of Ireland (NXF).
Additional financial support has been provided by:
Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, University of Kansas
Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, University of Michigan
Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, The University of Texas at Austin
Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill
Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, Indiana University, Bloomington
Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University
Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies, Arizona State University
Robert F. Byrnes Russian and East European Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington
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