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Queering Paradigms VIII

Queer-Feminist Solidarity and the East/West Divide

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Edited By Katharina Wiedlack, Saltanat Shoshanova and Masha Godovannaya

Queering Paradigms VIII brings together critical discourses on queer-feminist solidarity between Western, post-Soviet and post-socialist contexts. It highlights transnational solidarity efforts against homophobia, transphobia and misogyny. It engages grass-roots activists and community organizers in a conversation with scholars, and shows that the lines between these categories are blurry and that queer theorists and analysts are to be found in all spheres of queer-feminist culture. It highlights that queer paradigms and theories are born in street protests, in community spaces, in private spheres, through art and culture as well as in academia, and that the different contexts speak to each other.

This anthology presents some of the radical approaches that emerge at the intersection of activism, community organizing, art and academia, through transnational exchange, migration and collaborations. It is a celebration of alliances and solidarities between activism, community building, art, culture and academic knowledge production. Yet, the collected work also brings forward the necessary critique of Western hegemonies involved in contemporary queer-feminist solidarity activism and theory between the ‘East’ and ‘West.’ It is an important thinking about, thinking through and thinking in solidarity and the East/West divide, setting new impulses to fight oppression in all its forms.

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Introduction (Katharina Wiedlack / Saltanat Shoshanova / Masha Godovannaya)

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Katharina Wiedlack, Saltanat Shoshanova and Masha Godovannaya

Introduction

The Geographical and Cultural Context: Homophobia and the East/West Divide

The last decade saw a revival of dichotomous thinking that the editors and authors of this book were taught in school as something belonging to the ‘past.’ As children of the 1980s and 1990s, we saw walls and curtains fall, and maps being newly drawn from different sides of the so-called East/West divide. The Cold War was declared to have ended, and with it the fundamental distinction between the West and the East that went far beyond the geographical (and had in fact never really corresponded to geography, as far as Central Europe is concerned). However, the enthusiasm of this declaration turned out to be premature.

Thirty years into the post-Soviet and postsocialist so-called ‘transition’ (which seems to be a never-ending process),1 the distinction between the so-called ‘East’ and ‘West’ has arguably become more pronounced, more emphasized, and called upon more frequently than ever before during our collective lifetimes. The old significations of ‘East’ and ‘West’ have been resurrected and new binary oppositions have been added to their assemblages of meanings; today, the East/West divide signifies the chasm between←1 | 2→ ‘traditionalism’ and ‘progress,’ ‘the retrograde’ and ‘the developed,’ ‘religiousness’ and ‘secularism,’ between ‘uncivilized’ and ‘civilized,’ etc. This chasm is strengthened by the discursive division between capitalist and (post)communist/socialist countries, following the legacy of the Cold War.

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