Gender, sexuality and "post socialism": a critical analysis of the projects
Monika Baer (University of Wroclaw)
Paper short abstract:
The paper dwells critically on gender and sexuality research I ran in the late 1990s and the early 2000s in “postsocialist” Poland, while located at the intersections of anthropology and feminist/queer studies, and offers a rethought approach toward issues under consideration.
Paper long abstract:
Considering that anthropology of gender/sexuality has been historically evolving at the intersections of both anthropological and feminist/queer scholarship, its developments can be approached as the attempts at negotiating diverse disciplinary requirements. In the proposed paper I use that assumption as a prism to scrutinize my two ethnographically grounded research projects based in urban environment of "postsocialist" Poland. The first one took place in the second half of the 1990s and dealt with classed and gendered dynamics of a professionally active women club. The other was conducted in the first half of the 2000s and focused on the question of sexualized citizenship within university spaces and beyond. At that time my scholarly positioning was shaped by a vision of anthropology as a social/cultural critique rooted in an ethnographic detail and by three basic locations: of an anthropologist within activist circles; of a feminist/queer activist within a particular context of "postsocialist" anthropology; and of a "native" anthropologist within "anthropology of postsocialism". A specific anthropological perspective on gender/sexuality that emergred at that junction brought numerous critical insights into all three analytical/political praxises, but resulted also in its own blind spots. Seeking tools to design my current approach toward both gender/sexuality and anthropology, which tries to avoid former deficiencies, I turn to such projects as the "anthropology of the contemporary" by Paul Rabinow, "para-ethnography" by George E. Marcus and "ethnography in late industrialism" by Kim Fortun.