Researching, reworking and representing Soviet and Socialist LGBT histori​es​

The workshop aims to contribute to and expand the discussion of research and representation of queer history in Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. It is planned primarily as a research seminar for bringing young scholars together with some of their senior colleagues. We invite junior researchers, PhD students and some advanced MA students from the fields of arts, historical studies, queer studies, cultural research and alike to take part in it. The program will combine key note lectures by leading practitioners in the field, seminars with discussions on empirical material, and presentations of the participants. The workshop is hosted by Tallinn University Institute of Humanities and the Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts.

The workshop takes a decidedly inter-disciplinary approach by combining the discussions of artistic and scholarly practice, research and representation. As such, its focus will oscillate between the concerns of the past and the present, tackling, for example, the after-life of Soviet homosexuality in the contemporary arts and the reconstructions of the socialist queer life-worlds in the accounts of the historians. The primary temporal focus will be on the Soviet Union after the World War II, on Late Socialism (1956-85), but we also welcome to include the discussions of other Eastern or Central European countries during socialism and Soviet Union prior to the World War II.

The participation of the following key note speakers is confirmed. Yevgeniy Fiks, a freelance artist from the New York City will discuss the topic of “Ideological Inversions: Queering the Soviet Project, Ideology, and the Cold War.” Dan Healey from Oxford University will talk about “Archives, Histories, and Insurgent Projects of Queer Memory: The Chairman’s Tale as a Soviet Story.” Kevin Moss from Middlebury College will combine historical and literary analysis in his key note lecture about “Kharitonov’s “Listovka” and Soviet Gay Identity.”

The workshop will include a visit to Jaanus Samma’s exhibition “NSFW. A Chairman’s tale”, which is an artist’s take on a court file of a former Estonian collective farm chairman who was sentenced in 1966 for homosexual acts. Among the others, the program will also include the following research seminars and roundtables: on the court cases on sex-based cases from Latvian archives (Feruza Aripova, Northeastern University, USA), on the internal emigration of men and women in the late Soviet period, a shared Soviet homosexual subjectivity (Arthur Clech, CERCEC and EHESS, Paris), on the Soviet interwar queer court cases (Irina Roldugina, Higher School of Economics, Moscow).

The main workshop days are 30 September and 1 October. The program will start in the evening of 29 September the earliest, and will end at noon of 2 October at the latest. The interested participants should send an introductory email to by 25 August. In the application email, please explain in one paragraph your background and motivation for participating. If you would like to give a 15 min presentation of your own research or artistic practice, please explain this in another paragraph. Please note that we will accept early applications on the rolling basis and that the workshop places are limited.
There is no participation fee and some meals will be covered.

Main organiser: Uku Lember

Program committee: Andreas Kalkun, Uku Lember, Martin Rünk, Jaanus Samma.
The workshop is financed by the Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts through the European Union Structural Funds. It is additionally supported by the Embassy of the United States of America in Estonia and Estonian Culture Capital.