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  • 1.
    Polkov, Kirill
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Gender Studies.
    Homotolerant versus Homophobic?: Swedish Sexual Exceptionalism and the Russian Other2023In: Sexuality & Culture, ISSN 1095-5143, E-ISSN 1936-4822, Vol. 27, p. 2038-2064Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article explores how discourses of LGBTQI rights, homophobia, and homotolerance intersect in specific nation-state contexts. Focusing on Sweden's self-image of homotolerance, the author shows how this image has depended on the construction of non-tolerant and sexually backward Russia since 1991. This article suggests sexual exceptionalism as a more precise term to understand the relationship between Sweden and Russia in terms of geopolitics of sexuality. To do so, it examines the construction of Russia in the Swedish media discourse, with a focus on the position of LGBTQI people, and analyzes how this discourse, in turn, constructs the Swedish Self as exceptional and tolerant. My conclusions are based on a material consisting of around 500 articles from the five largest Swedish newspapers, published from 1991 to 2019. I show how the Swedish newspapers' portrayals of attitudes towards the LGBTQI subjects in Russia have relied on constructions of temporal difference and geographical closeness between the two nations and exhibited little change throughout the period. The article contributes to scholarship on global sexualities by demonstrating how the constructions of the homophobic Other become embedded in existing historical discourses on othering by helping produce notions of the sexual-politically exceptional Self.

  • 2.
    Polkov, Kirill
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Gender Studies. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).
    Queering Images of Russia in Sweden: Discursive hegemony and counter-hegemonic articulations 199120192024Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This study examines the role of non-normative sexuality in the construction of national images. It focuses on how non-normative sexuality affects and is affected by Swedish constructions of the image of Russia and, by extension, Sweden’s self-image. Employing queer, feminist, and postcolonial theories, and methodologically grounded in discourse-theoretical analysis with a queer sensibility, the dissertation explores what images of Russia are constructed, negotiated, and circulated in Swedish discourse.

    The material includes mass media, examples from popular culture, art, and the club scene spanning the period 1991-2019. The analysis draws on texts and images in the five largest Swedish dailies: Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter, Göteborgs-Posten, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen; video performances “Propaganda!” by Måns Zelmerlöw and “Folkkär” by Kamferdrops feat. Frej Larsson; visual arts projects, State of Mind by Axel Karlsson Rixon and Anna Viola Hallberg, as well as At the Time of the Third Reading by Axel Karlsson Rixon; and Baba Bomba Diskoteka, a series of club events held in Stockholm by a group of Russian-speaking friends.

    Analyzing the uses of non-normative sexuality across the material, the study focuses on aspects of space, temporality, and emotion. The study challenges the representational model of LGBTQ visibility by destabilizing the relationships between representation, visibility, and recognition, arguing for alternative conceptualizations of LGBTQ politics. The thesis finds that sexuality is central to shaping both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses on Russia in Sweden. In hegemonic discourse, Russian LGBTQ individuals are cast into subject positions circumscribed by expectations of intelligibility and visibility, while Russia is constructed as backward and homophobic. This perpetuates Swedish sexual exceptionalism, reinforcing notions of responsibility and progress while oversimplifying the complexity of Russian LGBTQ lives. Counter-hegemonic discourses prefigure alternative imaginaries of space, temporality, and emotion. Echoing queer, feminist, and postcolonial sensibilities these articulations disrupt binary understandings of geopolitical difference and offer alternative perspectives on Russian non-normative sexuality, thereby contributing to a reconfiguration of the image of Russia.

    The thesis seeks to complicate the representational model of visibility, challenging the ideas of Russia as ethnically and sexually homogenous and Sweden as sexually exceptional, stressing the need for queerly plural visions of sexualities and nations.

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    Queering Images of Russia in Sweden: Discursive hegemony and counter-hegemonic articulations 1991–2019
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