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Accepted Paper:

Queer Crossings in Communist Poland. The Life Narratives of Polish Queers in the 1970s  
Jedrzej Burszta (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

The proposed contribution to the roundtable will discuss chosen spatial and temporal aspects of the life narratives of Polish queers in the 1970s, based on an ongoing ethnographic and historical research project dealing with queer autobiographies in the 1970s (CRUSEV research project).

Paper long abstract:

Contrary to some studies of non-normative sexual history that focus on the globalization of LGBTQ identities and politics, there existed a distinct Eastern European queer identity that was both different than the Western/global LGBTQ movement. Polish queer culture existed on the margin of the nascent global gay and lesbian movement, although there were instances of a queer crossings between political borders. Polish queers did engage in a cross-cultural exchange which in many ways had significant influence on the types of queer expressions and queer practices found in Communist Poland. The adoption of an anthropological perspective enables to address the personal narratives about the past which shed light on the crossings of different queer histories that are often perceived as homogenous and presented as following the identity discourse established in the West (mainly in the United States). The presentation will focus on the dynamics between the East and West, e.g. in relation to the limited possibilities of mobility (visits to Western / East European countries, sex tourism), the circulation of knowledge and/or certain "artifacts" of queer culture (e.g. magazines, books, pornographic films), and the subjects' contemporary opinions on their own queer life then and now. The presentation will attempt to characterize the dynamic between the popular image of gay life and gay identity discourse in Western countries and how it translated into different approaches to identity represented by Polish queers, and how these at times conflicting identity-positions influence the oral history of Polish queer cultures of the 1970s.

Panel P035
Cruising the frontiers of time and space: towards an anthropology of queer crossings [ENQA Roundtable]
  Session 1 Thursday 16 August, 2018, -