Panel, ASEEES 2017

Transgressive Masculinities: Contemporary Russian Queer Visual Culture



Vlad Strukov (University of Leeds)

Maria Engström (Dalarna University)

Brian Baer (Kent State University)

Discussant: Helena Goscilo (Ohio State University)

Chair: Volha Isakeva (Central Washington University)


This panel aims to explore the visual construction of queerness in contemporary Russian culture, focusing on transgressive masculinities in film, media and art. In spite of the so-called visual turn in Russian Studies, which is associated with greater recognition of Russian visual culture (e.g. the rise of Russian Film Studies in the late 1990s, the emergence of Russian new media studies in the 2000s), there has been virtually no research on contemporary Russian queer visual culture and its socio-political dimensions.

The ‘gay propaganda law’ laid the foundation of the new national security doctrine (2015), which aims to protect and develop Russian traditional values such as collectivist identity, family and religiosity. The security doctrine signifies a bio-political turn which includes a number of regulatory mechanisms for disciplining and constraining human bodies. The Russian 2013-15 legislation and regulatory strategies of the government robs LGBTQ communities of queer visibility, that is, the appearance of these communities in public discourse where they are openly acknowledged as such. At the same time we witness the rise of new (mis)alliances between queer communities and far-right and nationalist circles, promoting hyper- and militarized masculinity and conservative values. The panel will contribute to development of the interdisciplinary field of queer and visual studies by examining a non-western, neoauthoritarian context.