"Homonationalism" à la polonaise, or how (not) to be successfully coopted by the (neo)liberal national state
Monika Baer (University of Wroclaw)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on fieldwork material on non-heteronormative urban citizenship in Wroclaw (PL), in the proposed paper I discuss ambivalent workings of "homonationalism" in a specific "postsocialist" setting, and their problematization by discursive practices of differentiated non-heteronormative subjects.
Paper long abstract:
Sharing criticism toward "homonationalism" embodied by the LGBT movement based on identity politics and strategies rooted in civil rights paradigm of a (neo)liberal type, in the proposed paper I argue that such criticism is entirely justified only in the context of unproblematized global North/South axis. Drawing on fieldwork material on non-heteronormative urban citizenship in Wroclaw (PL), I show that in the specific "postsocialist" settings, a concept of "liberal LGBT rights" can be both emancipatory and symbolically violent. Because cultural and legal "sexual citizenship" has not been so far recognized by the Polish state, it still keeps the subversive potential. Fighting for recognition, LGBT activists use all available resources, including collaboration with (neo)liberal (national and international) subjects. At the same time, more or less explicitly, they distance themselves from groups perceived as "not properly queer." Contrarily, the latter problematize the LGBT movement as representing a minority who seeks the same rights as a majority within the (neo)liberal national state. These ambivalent workings of "homonationalism" are exemplified by Wroclaw case. In this particular urban context imaginaries of "socialist past," "Western models," "global activism," "(neo)liberal capitalism," "Polish nationalism," and the like are all strategically used for negotiating personal sense of belonging to variously constructed communities, which in turn both supports and subverts mainstream LGBT activism. The fieldwork material has originated from the action-research project "Divercity: Preventing and combating homo- and transphobia in small and medium cities across Europe" (EU Rights, Equality and Citizenship Program).
Tangles of late liberalism: sexuality, nationalism, and the politics of race in Europe [EASA ENQA and ARE networks]