Debates in Transgender, Queer, and Feminist Theory: Contested Sites (Queer Interventions)

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It is common in both Russian and English literary translation tradition to praise works that are marked by fluency, creating an illusion that one is indeed reading an original text rather than its interpretation by another author. Traditionally, the task of the translator was understood as that of an invisible medium communicating between discrete and distinct linguistic worlds. Yet contemporary theorists have criticised this imperative for encouraging the invisibility of translation work Venuti , while advocating for transparency in translation Benjamin , Queer translation theory and practice present sentiments similar to feminist approaches.

Translation is always a particular re-writing of an original text serving specific ideological and political purposes. Translators have real agency and translations and are, therefore, significant cultural products in and of themselves, and not mere derivatives Tymoczko If any translation means manipulating a text in the service of some power or ideology, then it may also serve an emancipatory agenda of gender and sexual activists. This chapter is organised into three sections. Unlike in the English-speaking world, the tradition of appropriation of homophobic slurs as positive self-designations to be used by LGBT people with both irony and pride does not exist in Kyrgyzstan.

Melanie Richter-Montpetit and Cynthia Weber

WorldCat is the world's largest library catalog, helping you find library materials online. To love or to loathe: modernity, homophobia, and LGBT rights. Weber b. Cultural Values , 4 4 , — London: Pandora. Queer Scandinavia Units: 4 Seminar, three hours. Routledge eBooks are available through VitalSource.

I argue that kvir is not merely a loan translation, but a term utilised self-consciously and strategically in post-Soviet space as a radical alternative to both mainstream LGBT identity politics and the general conservative turn in society. In the Soviet Union, after a brief period of radical liberalisation of sexuality following the October Revolution, male homosexuality was re-criminalised in European republics in Healey , Anti-sodomy laws were introduced across Central Asia even earlier in the late s.

Female homosexuality was not criminalised, but pathologised within medical discourse Sarajeva , Stella Thus, for much of the Soviet period homosexuality was designated as belonging either in prison or in a psychiatric ward. Homosexuality re-entered public discussion during the late perestroika years with the policy of glasnost. It was already the late s when the first LGBT-themed publications and organisations appeared in the European republics of the Soviet Union Healey Kyrgyzstan became independent following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in Unlike other Central Asian countries, the Kyrgyz Republic has become known for a vibrant civil society and dynamic political life.

According to the account of Vladimir Tiupin, the founder of the first Kyrgyz gay organisation, Oasis, the s were a period of hitherto unseen liberation and openness for gay and lesbian communities. Thanks to a political landscape that became increasingly liberal, several LGBT rights NGOs were officially registered in the early s. Yet, LGBT activism and existence remain fraught. Against this backdrop, many LGBT people and activists face homophobic discrimination and violence in Kyrgyzstan as part of a broader similar trend in other parts of the world.

As of January , the bill was still under revision in the Kyrgyz parliament in its second reading. The text of the proposed bill was lifted verbatim from a law adopted in the Russian Federation in Moreover, a recent study by the Centre for Independent Social Research demonstrates that the number of violent hate crimes against LGBT people in Russia has risen dramatically since the law was adopted Kondakov When the state criminalised positive or even neutral representation of LGBT lives and relationships, it gave a licence to discriminate against this group of people.

Activists and LGBT allies in Kyrgyzstan also claim that the number of homophobic attacks has increased drastically since the draft law was introduced in parliament and that the general public discourse in the media has become visibly hostile.

Although the draft law remains under consideration in Kyrgyzstan, violence against non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming people is on the rise. In fact, LGBT organisations and activists have come under attack since the draft law was introduced Labrys. For instance, in April , unknown persons threw Molotov cocktails over the fence into the courtyard of the office of the LGBT organisation Labrys Labrys.

On May 17 th of that same year, nationalist vigilante groups Kalys and Kyrk Choro attacked a private event dedicated to the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia IDAHOT in Bishkek, the capital, by climbing over the fence, kicking in the lock of the gate and physically assaulting a young woman Labrys. Many more cases of violence, harassment, blackmail and extortion, rape, death threats, police brutality, and torture are known to activist groups.

Many more remain unreported HRW Non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming people face grave and urgent challenges in Kyrgyzstan. Debates on semantics and critiques of the dominant activist discourse may seem trivial and even counter-productive.

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Yet I argue that the discussion regarding the adoption of the word kvir is key to understanding the present and future of gender and sexual politics in Kyrgyzstan and worldwide. Originally used as a homophobic slur to refer primarily to homosexual men, this word started being used by non-heterosexual people more generally for self-identification, self-affirmation, and self-advocacy.

Ah, do we really have to use that word? Every gay person has his or her own take on it.

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For some it means strange and eccentric and kind of mysterious. When will you militants grow up and get over the novelty of being different? It has its place. But when a lot of lesbians and gay men wake up in the morning we feel angry and disgusted, not gay. We use queer as gay men loving lesbians and lesbians loving being queer. Such queering is not exclusive to the fields of gender and sexuality studies. Queer optics have been applied in spheres as diverse as ecology, politics, and international relations Mortimer-Sandilands and Erickson ; Weber When identities are queered, a worry arises that the subsequent loss of differences for identity is always articulated in relation with and opposition to the other will render the oppressed groups invisible and further oppressed.

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Thus, many LGBT activists and feminists feel ill at ease with queering, and have debated the concept of kvir in the post-Soviet space Sozaev a and b; Kharitonova Similarly, Olga Gert also known as Olgerta Kharitonova, the editor of the longest existing Russian-language lesbian feminist magazine Ostrov writes that Russia is not ready to accept queer theory and politics due to their complexity and suggests that the social movements focus on feminism first , It was thus hollowed out of all subversive and protest potential from its birth.

They wanted to organise an event that would attract the right audience, but would not give rise to unwanted attention from authorities and homophobes.

Sozaev a feels that kvir is hostile to both lesbian feminism and gay male liberation because it prevents the politicisation of LGBT communities around their identities as oppressed groups. They both object to the label as a noun as a way of labelling oneself and as a set of substantial philosophical ideas. Queering categories does have an emancipatory effect.

Rather than erasing oppressed identities, it queers them, makes them ambiguous, complex, multidimensional and intersectional. This inflammatory text was created against the backdrop of a raging AIDS epidemic and the homophobic policy of neglect by the United States government.

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Queer Nation Manifesto sparked a short-lived, but extremely effective and influential political campaign, with chapters all across the USA Stryker The manifesto was only translated into Russian in when two groups decided to translate it independently of each other. The first translation was mine, and appeared in the Bishkek-based queer feminist zine self-published magazine with small circulation Weird Sisters , edited by Oksana Shatalova The issue was dedicated to Queer feminism and built on a debate taking place between our group and a feminist group in Kazakhstan Kazfem , that publishes a feminist zine called Yudol.

Translation in this case was a significant intervention to introduce a cultural change. This translation is a record of ideological contestation.

Melanie Richter-Montpetit and Cynthia Weber

Transgender studies is a heterogeneous site of debate that is marked by tensions, border wars, and rifts both within the field and among feminist and queer theorists. Transgender studies is a heterogeneous site of debate that is marked by tensions​, border wars, and rifts both within the field and among feminist and queer.

Nouns in the Russian language have three genders masculine, feminine, and neutral. Also, when translating, I used both masculine and feminine first-person gender to convey two voices that I detected in the Manifesto — one of a gay man and another of a lesbian woman. The transition between two voices in the text is not clearly marked thus producing a queering effect.

Published in December on the website of the Russian initiative group Deistviie. A commentary to the publication attributes the original idea to translate the text to Sozaev — the very person who previously advocated death for the concept of kvir. The Manifesto title appears in this translation as Manifest Natsii Pidarov.

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