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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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12 Boston Marriages in Contemporary Russia and Beyond (Alexandra Yaseneva / Ekaterina Davydova)

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Alexandra Yaseneva and Ekaterina Davydova

12 Boston Marriages in Contemporary Russia and Beyond

Dominant Russian-speaking political discourses portray contemporary Russia as a fortress of traditional family values and intolerance against any alternative kinds of human cohabitation. However, the facade created by the official discourse conceals a rich diversity of gender contracts within Russian society, which still survives amidst unprecedented assaults on sexual freedom and a patriarchal renaissance inspired by the authorities. In this essay, we focus on Boston marriages in contemporary Russia and beyond1 as a unique phenomenon demonstrating Russian society’s resilience and adaptability in the face of the challenges posed by recent sexual and family policies. We introduce our online project Живи с подругой/ Živi s podrugoj [Live With Your Female Friend] (), which we created in 2014 to promote and create awareness about female cohabitation, Boston marriage, and romantic friendship, and to provide a space for women who seek these kinds of relationships to connect via a social media platform. The project focuses primarily on financial, psychological, and social support that women provide for each other rather than on sexual relations between them.

Though the concept of Живи с подругой is quite new, it refers to a variety of phenomena that have a long history, predating the emergence of ‘Boston marriages.’ The term ‘Boston marriage’ emerged in nineteenth-century New England to designate relationships between unmarried women who lived together, shared their expenses, and took care of each other. Similar partnerships exist in...

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