Identity Contestation and Instrumentalization within Serbia’s LGBT Movement

Sat9  Apr11:10am(10 mins)
Umney Theatre


Meghan Poff


As European institutions champion LGBT rights as a fundamental European value, LGBT issues have increasingly been associated with Europe, leaving LGBT actors in a sort of “in-between” space in countries where anti-European narratives are used for nationalist agendas. This study focuses on these tensions by exploring how the LGBT movements in Serbia negotiates and uses ideas of national and European belonging. It will accomplish this through investigation of the intra-movement dynamics of identity contestation, looking specifically at the ways that 1) social capital and positions of privilege within the movement determine whose voices are heard and legitimized, and 2) how European linkages and funding sustain the privilege of certain types of professionalized activism. To better understand contestation dynamics, I conducted 15 in-depth interviews with activists from LGBT organizations in Serbia which were supplemented with document analysis of publicity materials. Along with the interdisciplinary implications of this study for the fields of sociology, politics, area studies, and gender/sexuality studies, this project has implications for movement actors in terms of better understanding their strategic choices and for transnational actors in terms of exploring new ways to overcome existing power dynamics and engage ethically with local organizations. 

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