Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Keeping Russia Closeted: A biopolitical analysis of non-normative sexualities in Russia

Cai Weaver

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingMagisteruppsats


The law ‘prohibiting the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’ in Saint Petersburg
has received heavy international criticism with little academic inquiry to understand it and its
mechanisms affecting non-normative sexualities. By using a Foucauldian biopolitical
framework, this thesis investigates the law’s restrictions as an outcome of modern state
practices. Biopolitics is a modern state practice geared at protecting life and ensuring the
reproduction of life. Yet, there is a dark side to the life-producing biopolitical coin, in that it
involves acts whereby superior and inferior forms of life are separated from one another, all
geared at the normalisation of heterosexual conduct.

This thesis first examines the biopolitical rationalisations for the law. Then, it uses first
person accounts of the repression of non-normative sexualities to analyse biopolitical
government. The interviews have been conducted with the aim of understanding the ways in
which non-normative sexualities mobilise the biopolitical discourse of homosexuality and
govern themselves accordingly. As well as investigating the possibility for the discourse
acting as a site of resistance against the biopolitical apparatus. This enables the thesis to pay
attention to specific biopolitical techniques of visibility, normalisation, self-government and
the way in which non-normative sexualities have been added to the trope of Russia’s enemies.
Taken together, these discourses serve to connect homosexuality with the discourse of ‘Russia
must be defended’.

The research conducted found that the laws represent biopolitical regulation, and that the
discourses that circulate throughout Russian society are biopolitical in nature. Furthermore, it
has found that biopolitical power is paradoxical in its nature, as it aims to produce life, yet
causes violence, intimidation and mental insecurity for non-normative sexualities. This was
supported with the interviews which yielded harrowing insights into personal emotive
accounts of experienced violence. In essence, heterosexual life is elevated as legitimate and
legal, and non-normative sexuality, whilst permitted is not protected. With the biopolitical
paradox as a feature of biopolitical state practices, the controversial idea of life-producing
violence has entered into Russia with regard to non-normative sexualities.
UtgivningsortTampere University
StatusPublicerad - 30 jan. 2014
Externt publiceradJa
MoE-publikationstypG2 Masteruppsats, polyteknisk masteruppsats


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