Sexual Citizenship, Oral History, and the Archive in 1970s Central and Eastern Europe – Programme

20-22 September 2018
University of Warsaw

Programme for CRUSEV Poland’s symposium, addressing sexual citizenship in the context of to queer lives, practices, and expression in Poland during the 1970s and in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) during the Cold War.

Sexual Citizenship, Oral History, and the Archive in 1970s Central and Eastern Europe
University of Warsaw, September 20-22, 2018

Thursday, September 20: Symposium Day 1
14:00 Optional visit to The POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, ul. Mordechaja Anielewicza 6

“The Muranów Lily”: audioguide art by Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay
Those interested please write to by Monday, Sept. 17.

University of Warsaw Rectorate Building – Casimir Palace, Joachim Brudzinski room (ground floor), ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28

17:00hrs – Opening remarks
Glyn Davis, University of Edinburgh, and Fiona Anderson, University of Newcastle

Lecture by Franko Dota, University of Rijeka – ‘The Socialist Homosexual Citizen in Yugoslav Legal and Medical Debates (1960-1984)’

Film screening by Karol Radziszewski, independent artist – ‘Afterimages / Kruzing’  [Powidoki / Kruzing],
followed by Q&A led by Aleksandra Gajowy, University of Newcastle


Friday, September 21: Symposium Day 2
UW American Studies Center, Al. Niepodleglosci 22, room 116

9:30hrs lecture
Dobrochna Kalwa, University of Warsaw – ‘In the Service of Herstory. Oral history and the construction of feminist collective memory in Poland’

10:30hrs coffee break

11:00hrs session 1
Elena Likhomanova, Podruzhestvo, and Ksenia Gushchina, Moscow State University – ‘Across the Decades: Narrative Interviews with Soviet Feminists and Lesbians of 1970s and 1980s’

Magdalena Staroszczyk, University of Warsaw – ‘‘No one talked about it’: the paradox of lesbian identity in pre-1989 Poland’

Ladislav Zikmund-Lender, Society of Queer Memory, Prague – ‘“I Love Shakespeare’s Sonnets and I am looking for someone to read them with.” The Role of Culture in Czechoslovak Queer Memories from the 1960s to 1980s’

Karolina Morawska, University of Warsaw – ‘Images of queer men in the 1970s Poland – four portraits’  

13:00hrs lunch

14:00hrs lecture
Katerina Lišková, Masaryk University – ‘Conceptualizing Socialist Sexual Citizenship. The case of male homosexuality and male sexual deviance in Czechoslovakia’

15:00hrs coffee break

15:30 – 17:30hrs session 2
Agnieszka Koscianska, University of Warsaw – ‘“Currently, homosexuality is not considered a deviation, but a psychosexual otherness:” homosexuality, therapy, and sex education in late state socialist Poland’

David Kurkovskiy, Fellow at the Centre of East European Studies, University of Warsaw – ‘Gay sex “scandal” before gay went global: a closer look at the Soviet anti-sodomy law, international responses and “queer” cultural artifact in the case of Sergei Parajanov’

Jedrzej Burszta, University of Warsaw – ‘Coming Out to a Queer Life: individual voices and urban queer networks in 1970s Poland’

Tomasz Basiuk, University of Warsaw – ‘Conceptualizing Male Homosexual Identity in 1970s Poland. Some findings from oral history interviews and from letters sent to HOSI Vienna’


Saturday, September 22: Day 3
UW American Studies Center, Al. Niepodleglosci 22, room 116

9:30hrs Lecture
Sarah Schulman, The City University of New York – ‘Let The Record Show: ACT UP and The Enduring Relationship of AIDS’

10:30hrs coffee break

11:00hrs session 3
Aleksandra Gajowy, Newcastle University – ‘The Palace and The Toilet: Cruising queer desire in the urban space of socialist Poland’

Blazej Warkocki, Adam Mickiewicz Univesity – ‘Transgresje as a Queer Archive in the Context of Narratives About Pre-1989 Poland’

Mateusz Król, University of Silesia – ‘Queens and Faggots, Petites Folles et Pedales – what happens when Lubiewo is translated into English and French?’

13:00hrs lunch

Duzy Pokój, ul. Warecka 4/6 (enter from ul.Kubusia Puchatka).
18:00hrs Performance
Agnieszka Koscianska and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay. – “You, doctor, are my only rescue! / Jest pan, panie doktorze, jedynym ratunkiem!”

Sexual Citizenship, Oral History, and the Archive in 1970s Central and Eastern Europe

Symposium – Call for Papers
20-22 September 2018
University of Warsaw, Poland

University of Warsaw, September 20-22, 2018


With his concept of sexual citizenship, David T. Evans offered a framework for thinking about sexuality as a matter for civic and human rights. Can this perspective apply to queer lives, practices, and expression in Poland during the 1970s and in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) during the Cold War more broadly?

References to underground queer cultures of the era are traceable in literature, film, and professional publications by sexologists and state police experts. Some of these references are veiled in the culturally sanctioned silence around queer sexualities and they need to be noted and explained. Others represent the state’s surveying eye, typically focused on homosexual men, and the professional’s gaze, often focused on the transsexual.

Given the limitations of the available archive, oral history interviews are an important source for understanding the queer past. They may dovetail with the framework of sexual citizenship because the interviews address both the material conditions of queer lives and the ways in which queer subjects have conceptualized and represented those lives. By allowing queers to voice their stories, prominence is given to their lived sexual difference and to their dissent. While Polish and other CEE queers may not have articulated specifically political demands in the 1970s, many developed an alternative ethos, one cutting diagonally across some established social institutions.

Some of the questions this symposium seeks to explore are: How to tell the history of Polish and other CEE queers in the 1970s and prior to their partial political emancipation post-1989? Is it one history or rather many histories, influenced by gender, class, and ethnicity, as well as geopolitical location? What kind of impact did the East/West divide, which defined the political era, have on queer experience, queer networks, and queers’ sense of belonging? What is the relationship between queer lives, both individual and collective, and civic rights? Is Evans’s framing applicable to the Polish and other CEE contexts of the period? What is the meaning of doing queer history now? What can we learn from our inquiries into the past, and from oral history specifically?

We invite empirically grounded, as well as theoretical and methodological, papers that address these and related questions. Please submit your abstract (max. 250 words) and bio (max. 150 words) to by June 26. Decisions about acceptance of abstracts for this workshop will be emailed by July 3.