Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

“Why wave the flag?”: (In)visible queer activism in authoritarian Kazakhstan and Russia

Fri31  Mar12:30pm(15 mins)
Gilbert Scott Room 250
Dr Mariya Levitanus


Mariya Levitanus1; Polina Kislitsyna2
1 The University of Edinburgh, UK;  2 Personal capacity, Russian Federation


Western queer politics aspires to increase the visibility of queer subjects that has been highly regulated in Kazakhstan and Russia. This article examines the narratives on activism of queer people living in both countries. Drawing on two interview studies conducted in 2017 and 2018, the findings reveal an ambivalent meaning of visibility for queer people there. For many, “visible” activism is perceived as vulnerable and risky, therefore alternative methods of activism are preferred and deemed more useful. The article contributes to debates of (in)visibility as a nationalised construct, critiquing the notion of progressivist narratives in the light of current events in Kazakhstan and Russia.