Becoming visible: Queer in postsocialist Slovakia
Drawing on a rich archive of print and electronic sources, in-depth interviews and participant observation in three Slovak lesbian and gay nongovernmental organizations Ganymedes, Museion and Altera, this ethnography presents a culturally and historically situated analysis of the conditions and effects of the emerging visibility of sexual minorities in post-1989 Slovakia. At the core of this study is Foucault's theorizing of sexuality as an effect of discourses, and his genealogical approach to studying the links between discursive practice and different modalities of power. Through uncovering multiple and diffuse sites where heteronormativity is challenged, this study disrupts dominant narratives of social change that efface sexual-political struggle, and situates the emerging visibility of sexual minorities in Slovakia within the larger contexts of postsocialist transformations, European integration and globalization.
This dissertation examines the following questions: How can we explain the rise of visibility of sexual minorities in post-1989 Slovakia? What are the sites of heightening visibility? How do various discursive practices effect the formation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer sexual-political subjectivities and activist networks in the context of Slovak language and culture? How do postsocialist transformation, European integration and globalization affect the "queering" of civil society in contemporary Slovakia?
Slovak sexual minorities emerged from invisibility with the establishment of LGBT nongovernmental organizations and periodicals in a period of societal crisis triggered by the collapse of communism in 1989 and ensuing political, economic, and cultural change. During Slovakia's accession to the European Union, LGBT activism was further mobilized by access to new knowledge and resources, marginal participation in transversal decision-making, and transnational activist networking. While Slovak LGBT activists still struggle with movement participation, they continue to establish themselves as producers of counter-knowledge and as political force that can no longer be ignored. This study documents their communicative and political intervention as a record of a social movement taking shape, and as an analysis of contested sexual discourses at a key historical juncture. It aims to contribute insight and intellectual energy to future activism and to the evolution of queer culture in Slovakia.
0326: Cultural anthropology