Imaginaries of Sexual Citizenship in Post-Maidan Ukraine: A Queer Feminist Discursive Investigation

Plakhotnik, Olga (2019). Imaginaries of Sexual Citizenship in Post-Maidan Ukraine: A Queer Feminist Discursive Investigation. PhD thesis The Open University.



This doctoral project is an investigation of the imaginaries of sexual citizenship in post-Maidan Ukraine. I used a queer feminist discourse analysis method to examine how LGBT+ communities seek to position themselves in relation to hegemonic discourses of state and nationhood. Collecting data from focus group discussions and online forums, I identified the Euromaidan (2013-2014) as a pivotal moment wherein sexual citizenship was intensified as a dynamic process of claims-making and negotiation between LGBT+ communities and the state. Analysing how LGBT+ communities imagine and make sense of sexual citizenship, I demonstrated how the dominant discourse of sexual citizenship – homopatriotism, as I call it – emerged as a specific form of homonormativity at the complex intersection of the post-Maidan nationalist mobilisation, war in the eastern part of Ukraine, global human rights discourse, post-socialism, neoliberalism and axes of colonial power. Through homopatriotism, the universal discourse of (neoliberal) human rights and the particular discourse of Ukrainian ‘civic nationalism’ have become intertwined. This enmeshment, I argue, positioned LGBT+ communities as patriots and ‘good citizens’ and enabled instrumentalisation of the LGBT+ claims for sexual citizenship by the state. Being oriented towards Western models of ‘LGBT+ progress’ and away from ‘Russian’ and ‘Soviet’ regimes of sexuality, homopatriotism in Ukraine reinvigorated the geotemporal position of Eastern Europe as undeveloped and, therefore, ‘catching up’.

Following the methodological and ethical bases of queer feminist studies, I looked closely at the counter-discourses that are scattered across the communities, with particular emphasis on grassroots ‘queer activism’. Opposing both heteronormativity and homonormativity, critiquing capitalist/neoliberal, militarist, racist, ableist, misogynist and Western-centred tendencies within mainstream LGBT+ politics, the counter-discourses point to the analytic limits of the concept of sexual citizenship and enable alternative imaginaries of belonging, subjectivities and solidarities to emerge beyond the framework of sexual citizenship.

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