Queer Reparations of Russia’s Periphery: in non-Metropolitan Time and Space

Lecture | March 1 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 270 Stephens Hall

 Veronika Lapina, Wayne Vucinich Fellow, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, Stanford University

 Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES)

Guided by the assumption that some spaces more than others produce and are shaped by homophobia, researchers seem to fall into a trap of paranoia, which Eve Sedgwick famously narrated as paying attention only to how systemic oppression functions, thus drifting away from illuminating the ways in which sexuality exhibits itself. Contagious paranoia rearticulates spaces and places - even territories of whole nation- states - and continuously marks and narrates relationships, which these spaces (co)produce through homophobia. Thus, while investigating such “other” geographies researchers commonly follow — relying on established discursive formations — ethics that are tuned endurably to the note of paranoia, thus navigating and producing paranoid realities. In this discourse Russia’s peripheral space is commonly being narrated as a double-marginalized space: while the country itself that is being continuously marked as homophobic, peripheral space there is generally demonized as being backwards, and more homophobic than metropolitan areas of Moscow and St. Petersburg. In this lecture I aim to offer a reparative reading of Russian peripheral space by narrating non-normative desire of queers as it originates at the periphery and suggesting to look at non-metropolitan Russian queers without any preconceptions of misery or struggle. Through talking about relations of peripheral space, time and queer desire that I uncovered in my ethnographic fieldwork I map the enactments of unconventional queer spaces and becoming-time and highlight how all of these issues are productive of queer disidentification. I suggest we need to rethink our examining of Russia’s periphery as insipid, unambiguous, heteronormative, homophobic and insulating.