Accepted paper:

Between Cross and Rainbow. War of Symbols in the Protest Culture of the Polish LGBT Movement after 1989

Authors:

Agnieszka Balcerzak (University of Munich)

Paper short abstract:

The Polish LGBT movement is an important player on the arena of Poland's post-communist minority politics. In contrast to the far right xenophobic principle "God-Honor-Fatherland", its visual representations and performative practices of protest support the fight for more diversity in Poland.

Paper long abstract:

Since the collapse of communism in 1989 and the introduction of Poland's transformation the issues of protest are ubiquitous in the Polish society. Due to different ideological views, systems of values and visions of Poland, the Polish post-communist landscape of protest is characterized by a strong socio-political dichotomy. On the one hand, right-wing movements such as national-conservative All-Polish Youth or the National Rebirth of Poland aim to propagate the "patriotic" spirit and create a homogeneous "Great National Poland". On the other hand, the liberal pro-European LGBT movement fights against homophobia and xenophobia by rejecting a nationalist ultra-Catholic vision of a "Poland for Poles" ruled by priests. Crucial for these two diametrically different visions of Poland is the realm of symbols, which helps to construct collective identities, define boundaries and characterize the narratives of inclusion and exclusion. In order to achieve its goals, the Polish LGBT movement produces a wide range of visual symbols exposed in form of posters, comics or street art as well as performative urban practices like demonstrations or happenings. By presenting a selection of examples, I would like to outline which (counter) narratives are characteristic for the Polish war of symbols, which (utopian) realities they offer and present what they reveal about the socio-political structures of the post-communist society and the neo-nationalism in Poland. The presented paper refers to my ethnological doctoral thesis concerning Polish culture of protest after 1989, methodologically based on a combination of discourse analysis, participant observations and semi-structured interviews.

panel P039
Tangles of late liberalism: sexuality, nationalism, and the politics of race in Europe [EASA ENQA and ARE networks]