Scandalous belonging: space, time, and heteronational panic in postsocialist Hungary
(Central European University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper compares two past scandals over LGBT public presence in postsocialist Hungary in order to trace their effects on the current tensions shaping Hungarian sexual politics, and especially the country’s recent surge in public homophobia.
Paper long abstract:
Public scandals and moral panics about sexuality are critical sites through which the cultural-political meanings of sexuality are reconfigured, often with lasting consequences for intimacy, belonging, and social transformation. This paper compares two past scandals over LGBT public presence in postsocialist Hungary in order to trace their effects on the current tensions shaping Hungarian sexual politics, and especially the country's recent surge in public homophobia. The first scandal arose in the late 1990s in response to an LGBT school outreach program, the second in the early 2000s over an attempt to ban LGBT people from an outdoor music festival. Public discourses surrounding these scandals centered on heteronormative imaginings of sexuality's significance for conflicting modalities of space and time, figuring schools as crucial spaces of national reproductive futurity, and the music festival as an iconic transnational space emblematic of the nation's postsocialist progress, thus rendering both key sites of contention over postsocialist Hungary's modern European belonging and difference. I argue that in response to each scandal, LGBT activists strove to negotiate these intersecting imaginaries of national and transnational space and time, belonging and difference, shifting the borders of LGBT belonging in order to strengthen identity, community, and activism. These efforts were crucial to constituting a more cohesive LGBT movement making visible claims for rights and inclusion. They also, however, ultimately positioned LGBT people and politics at the precarious center of increasing tensions over Hungary's relation to the borders of European modernity, and rendered them more vulnerable targets of heteronational hatred.
Whatever is happening to the critical study of sexual and gender diversity in anthropology? (European Network of Queer Anthropology)