‘Sex, Power, Love and Money: Media and Sexualisation of Everyday in the Post-Soviet spaces’ is the title of a recent workshop held at the University of Leicester. It dealt with the topical issue of mediation of sexuality and its utilisation for various ends in the Russian Federation and the neighbouring states. This is particularly important in the context of recent legislative (e.g. 2013’s ‘anti-gay law’ in Russia) and societal changes triggered by an ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis (e.g. a reinforced ideology of patriotism and the militarised narrative within the New Cold War rhetoric (Hartmann 2014)). By looking at recent TV series, talk shows, films, online narratives the workshop addresses the increasing mediatisation of the sex/uality in the region.
Overall, the workshop stimulated critical reflection on the role of non-heteronormative images, sexualities, desires, and identities in the post-Soviet media, cultural and philosophical landscapes. It also provided the grounds for a critical reflection on the interaction between media, sexuality, politics and culture in post-Soviet Russia and beyond. The interdisciplinary and versatile nature of the workshop stimulated a productive and insightful discussion on a variety of topics. For example, the participants looked into different societal approaches to the issues of sex and pornography and the comical homoerotic interpretations of political relationship between the USA and Russia. One thread of discussion was prompted by the semiotic analysis of the work of notorious Russian philosopher Dugin; insightful observations were made about the links between Italian and Soviet feminism. New take on youth culture and rock and pop music scene were presented in the context of mediation of (non)-heteronormative sexualities and same-sex desire. Mediation of queer sexualities as means of sustaining the discourse of heternormativity was analysed in the case study of the popular Russian TV show ‘Modnyi Prigovor’. An account of curatorial museum practice in post-Soviet spaces shed new light on LGBTQ art as an alternative democratic platform. One of the issues raised was a lack of studies on mediation of heteronormativity in contemporary Russia. It was also noted that there is still a gap in scholarship on the mediation of body and on the discourse on sexual practices and shifts in social norms in post-Soviet spaces.
The workshop was organised by Galina Miazhevich (Leicester) and Vlad Strukov (Leeds) as part of the activities of a newly established study group Digital Media and Cultures (http://basees.org/sd-digital-media-cultures). The event was sponsored by British Association for East European and Slavonic Studies (BASSEES).