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The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, Cham, Switzerland bojanello gmail. I have been hovering around it for more than a decade, ever since I thought, perhaps somewhat naively, that sociology could help me to make sense of the way in which our lives got caught in a bewildering swirl of war and destruction. Its capacity to occasionally overwhelm me at unbearable levels is not diminished—but often amplified—by the images of misery that inun- date us on a daily basis.
It is only through years of psychotherapy and therapeutic feminist scholarship that I have now managed to take a better look at it, to approach it and touch it, and, to a certain extent, harness its colossal affective force. I could thus become more aware of how it colours numerous aspects of my existence serving as a thread that runs through generations of my ancestors and connects me—in still insufficiently recognised ways—with many of my contemporaries, extended family members and former conationals.
To be trauma- tised means to dwell in the barren fields of the incomprehensible, to be caught up in a loop of suspended time2 marked by an experience that is not completely graspable, that is impossible to fathom. Trauma is a spasm between the con- straint of remaining silent, on the one hand, and the urgency to speak, on the other. While the wound struggles to reveal itself and get a shape through words and voice, it leaves us with an impression that we have never really said what we wanted to say, we are faced with a residue that compels us to try again.
Due to its fundamental verbal impenetrability, trauma is a testimony that longs to be heard but can never be fully nar- rated Caruth A patriarchal body flooded by a homosexual urging is instantaneously silenced: it does not have the means for understanding itself because it enters a semantic void in which it has nothing to fall back on. Such a body cannot acknowledge what has never existed here, but if at all, invariably somewhere there, far from us and our capacity to name it without slowing down, lowering our voice, or expecting our facial ges- tures to make up for what words cannot do.
Affected by a sudden loss of language, the homosexual body soaked in patriarchy slowly grows con- vinced of its fundamental unlovability—it starts to fidget in its effort to vanish, to become invisible. Terrified by the possibility of rejection, by the earthquake through which it would come, and humiliated by the omnipresent expressions of compulsory heterosexuality in which there were some virtual, unavoidably derided gays, but never ever any lesbians Rich , I started living one new, entirely secret and energy-consuming life.
The feelings of shame that encircled many of us because of the criminal government, which constantly went further down the spiral of evil, resonated deeply with the shame, guilt, and excitement of my wish to be with another man.
Soon I realised that my body became a site of convergence, a crossroads where the traumas of war and homosexuality intersected their affectively charged trajectories. A sort of meta-trauma emerged through a simultaneous explosion of armed conflicts and an implosion of homosexuality—it appeared at the junction between the external and internal worlds, both of which were increasingly fragmented and dispersed. It is in such circumstances of suspended time, of solitude that seemed to linger outside of time see Hobbes , that I noticed something sur- prising which would become a source of inspiration and colour my tortu- ous personal-professional paths.
Much later, as I, already a migrant, started delving into that way of mak- ing sense of the world known as social theory, I learned about Sara Ahmed, Judith Butler, Rosi Braidotti, Wendy Brown, Esther Newton, bojanello gmail. Throughout the years I got to know many post-Yugoslav feminist and lesbian activists personally, became friends with some and took my distance from others, but regard- less of whether I supported or criticised their work or, more than any- thing, tried to support it through a structural, sociological critique , there has been for me no doubt that political resistance in our tortured space— the one that has been in most cases slow, unobtrusive, but resolute and persistent—has had a feminist woman voice.
And it was through listening to this voice that I was also learning to speak. This was for me the beginning of politics, my fundamental feminist insight, a moment of articulation that allowed the personal and the political to touch each other in my mind for the first time. I was ready for this insight as a brother of two older sisters the only, longed-for son! It was only when approaching lesbian feminist activisms that I saw the contours of less patriarchal worlds, horizons of better times Nestle —devoid of hierarchies, injustice, and exploitation—in which I wanted to live.
Often at the helm of resistance against the inter- secting forces of violence5 and destruction that have surrounded us, les- bian feminists have been for decades doing what I would mostly like to capture with this book, namely teaching us a language, expanding the domain of speakability speak-ability.
This has meant acting upon the urge and strengthening the capacity to speak, rendering difficult topics thinkable, utterable, and nameable, and thus, broadening the possibili- ties of what could be legitimately said Cooper Coming out, especially and firstly to oneself, means arriving at words, coming to terms for in order to start the recurring process of coming to terms with a sexual difference that at least temporarily defies the totalising regime of heteronormativity.
The fog of shame and confu- sion crystallises around something that can be intelligibly pronounced. Coming out is political because it is an act done in spite of which brings about a change, it is a moment of potential, a temporal bifurcation point that marks the birth of a language with which one can learn to decipher the body, decode the basic grammar of desire, and help harness the trau- matic impact of self-hatred. One bojanello gmail. The voice of coming out is a link between internal and external worlds that both acknowledges and challenges the pervasive hetero-reality.
In this regard, rather than intruding into the sphere of lesbian intimate experience, I have been drawn to those strands of lesbian public engage- ment that have operated as a political force which addresses both of these intricately interwoven worlds by destabilising their corresponding forms of denial. As coming out marks the end of an internal silence and consti- tutes a tectonic identitarian shift that invites for but need not necessarily lead to new modes of interaction, resisting the denial of family and part- ner violence as well as of nationalist violence that took place throughout the Yugoslav wars opens the space for imagining how our wounded com- munities could establish themselves on new grounds.
It is thus by undo- ing silence and repression that lesbian feminism strikes at the heart of personal-social change. I under- stand feminist lesbian agency as an expression of meaning-making capacity which redoes the world by rendering it more bearable: it acts upon political values that strive towards redrawing the cartographies of bojanello gmail.
That would perhaps not be up to me to do—lesbian women have been doing so with courage, determi- nation, and commitment making in such a way also this book possible. I am, rather, interested in what lesbianity does when it enters the public realm and I write from the position of someone who is addressed by its presence in the sphere of politics: how it comes to life and how it changes life possibly beyond those who intimately claim the lesbian label. I would like to offer a partial archaeology of lesbian speakability, an excavation of moments both in the past and in the present in which lesbian agency has guided desire not only out of the suffocating seclusion of a single body, but into the public space.
It is through such operation of agency that trauma ceases to be solely a debilitating condition and becomes also an affective site that generates wor l ds, enables resistance, and proposes novel forms of being and of being together Cvetkovich I would like this book to contribute to the dissemination of this productive dimension, of the ways in which lesbian agency manifests itself in the public field so that it can go beyond the usual lesbian and gay activist perimeter and do more justice to its own political potential.
In this regard, my book joins the initiatives that strive to recognise our shared experiences as traumatic, as chronically painful, by seeing them as physical, psychic, political, and social wounds that make it difficult for us to speak and repeatedly disentangle the visions of our common futures. I wanted to finally! This book is not about trauma—it does not bojanello gmail.
Exactly because I dwell on agency and its strategies of surmounting paralysing events, I approach trauma in a way in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians perform an Acknowledgement of Country: I would like to acknowledge my own lost country, with all of its achievements and con- tradictions, by allowing trauma to backdrop every ensuing chapter.
Arriving at trauma opens the psychic-political space for constructing and crossing the bridge12 between Yugoslavia and post-Yugoslavia. It enables a naming of the time that does not appear to pass and, by doing so, endows one with the possibility of rupturing the difficulties with moving on Baraitser I understand that I am when writing this book not only led by the political cause of rendering lesbianity visible, but by having been for a lot of time an easy prey to the stereotype of lesbian intimacy.
Some of the most serious problems that I have with a lot of writing about Yugoslavia, about our times of trauma, is that it is often not aware of the power of its touch. Witnessing torrents of invasive physi- cal contact, multitudes of bodies whose boundaries were violated, is a deeply visceral experience that heightens your sensitivity to being touched.
Cvetkovich , p. Insufficiently acknowledged non-heterosexuality is touchy in the sense of being delicate, fragile, perhaps even terrifying, hanging by a thread in anticipation of an undesired discovery, of a poten- tially violent touch. As internalised homophobia, the violence that one inflicts upon oneself does not enable getting in touch with oneself or the other; its hardships are worsened by occasionally finding oneself in deper- sonalised sexual situations, where one may end up being touched by someone one does not want to touch, one wishes one had not touched.
And what is it at all that makes me work on the tortured Yugoslav space even though I have been a nomad, a wandering migrant for almost two decades? The tragedy of Yugoslavia and its aftermath, marked by the capitalist evacuation of security, predictability, and future, opened a risky non-heterosexual breach. Activist efforts intensified, pro- voking eruptions of homophobic violence and perhaps complicating bojanello gmail. The hardships of tolerating difference of one kind were complemented with the hardships of tolerating difference of another.
We as a community of more than 50 authors have been there not only to observe but to navigate and shape the intricate processes that started expanding queer, non-heterosexual, and gender non-conforming—that is to say our own—speakability. If there is a thread that runs through these volumes, it is our appreciation of diversity and our willingness to speak across difference. Geertz as cited in Newton18 , p. Feminist sociology, or any other critical social science disci- pline, as an effort to reflexively engage with the world, is nourished by difference; it emerges from a tension and is supposed to make that tension speak and—perhaps even—the people involved in it speak across it.
However, one of the staple features of the times of trauma, of the polit- ical emergency in which many of us have been longing for intimacy and healing, is that they render it difficult to talk across difference: the dangers of the world, its unpredictability and fragility, encourage us to stick bojanello gmail. This fear translates into the realm of academia by the way of epistemological insiderism Brubaker , namely the belief that identity should dis qualify someone from writing with legitimacy about a particular topic.
While some of this resistance was verbal and at times also aggressive, it more frequently came through disappearances, unanswered emails, or correspondence that would gradually falter before coming to a stop. Epistemological insiderism, a symptom of repatriarchalisation and the upsurge of conservative values also within feminist groups, implies that only certain people, chosen on the basis of their stabilised identitarian features, could produce knowledge in certain areas.
If feminist lesbian speakability comes to the world as critique, as an embodied act of resistance to patriarchal silencing, as a promise of transformation, if it is rebellious and turned towards freedom, is it not self-defeating and disappointing that it may also come as censorship and, invariably, self-censorship? Focusing on feminist lesbian engagement has given me an opportu- nity to dwell in that sociological discomfort zone which does not only make knowledge possible, but also enables affective links to be estab- lished across our painful fissures of difference.
But to write from a discomfort zone, to find oneself under the weight of uncertainty, of suspicion, is both taxing and fascinating. It may per- haps testify to the strength of my professional ambition, but it also highlights the vitality of my commitment to and the depth of my need for the feminist project.
I wanted to be close both physically and emotionally to those who demand survival and whose experiences—like many of my own—circu- late around trauma. Perhaps it has been through writing about trauma that I have tried to qualify for writing about lesbians: trauma, my trauma, our trauma—a ticket, a tunnel into lesbian worlds. How could I as a gay gender scholar who lived through the dissolution of Yugoslavia, who wit- nessed floods of male violence, not be intrigued by lesbianity, which has bojanello gmail.
How would I not be enticed by what it means—what it may mean—to be an escapee of heteropatriarchy Wittig ? How would I not wonder about what kind of knowledge-feeling is relied upon and produced in the both fragile and resilient sites of feminist lesbian conver- gence? Solidarity based on feminist values and the desire to intervene into the patriarchal tissue of everyday life has to a great extent, although bojanello gmail.
There was a sense of belonging to the Yugoslav community that became a sort of a female network. Of course, this was due to a unique situation. The same was happening in Slovenia, and after all, everywhere. Connecting narratives, while not negating conflict, appreciate how many of these par- allel streams stem from the same institutional or organisational roots.
Thus, the concept of twin cultures offers an analytical frame for reconstructing anti-war, pacifist, and feminist engagement as well as mul- tiple other forms of anti-nationalist sentiment or mobilisation that were crucial for the development of critical perspectives in the post-Yugoslav states. As one activist who took part in both events states as cited in Dioli , p.
They all looked like men, like what traditional men look like. They were all refer- ring to their national identity, and they were all referring to God. These are the three things that mostly stand together. We could see the same pattern. Scholarship that engages with marginalised groups offers an opportunity for forging transnational links on new grounds and may strive to eschew the nation-state as the dominant analytical framework.
In this regard, the twin cultures perspective offers an alternative to the so-called methodologi- cal nationalism which treats the nation-state as the necessary representation of the modern society and establishes an equation between the sociological concept of society and the process of historical formation of the nation- state Chernilo ; Wimmer and Glick Schiller A regional critical lens stems from the queer suspicion towards the nation alist state that has been traditionally engaged in the often-violent regulation and mis man- agement of non-heterosexual and transgender lives.
Such a perspective foregrounds subnational and transnational regional political interactions, diffusions, and fissures that may be overlooked by the focus on the national scale of LGBT politics Binnie This is particularly important in semi- peripheral regions because of their political volatility which encourages state centralisation.
Strongly centralised states are, in turn, characterised by serious urban-rural divisions that often have elements of class distinction and contribute to the intra-state dynamics of activist struggles. Notes 1. Scholars have differentiated between primary, secondary, and vicarious traumatisation. While primary traumatisation means that the person herself has been exposed to an existential shock, secondary traumatisa- tion refers to the trauma being transmitted between family members bojanello gmail.
Baraitser argues that we no longer live with an expectation of a progressive future, but have quotidian experiences of suspended time: waiting, delaying, staying, remaining, enduring, returning, and repeating. There are no official data regarding the frequency of femicide in Serbia, reflecting the lack of interest of the state in preventing this practice.
Only between 16 and 18 May , seven women were killed in family or partner violence Beta Similarly, between and , 72 women were killed by their husbands, partners, or other known men in Croatia, making femicide account for 25—30 per cent of all homicides in that coun- try Slobodna Dalmacija In Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia, the frequency of femicide is higher than the European aver- age Burba and Bona These data cannot transmit the harrowing manner in which many of these women lost their lives: some were stabbed, strangled, or shot in front of or together with their children.
No, not with a single person. I spent the first around twenty years of my life in an absolute silence about my sexuality. That is an aspect of my growing up which never ceases to fascinate me … it took me the whole of twenty five years to understand that I am attracted by women, to fall in love madly with one of them and to then immediately announce this to myself and to others. For example, only four months after the accession 1 July , Croatia changed its Constitution to define mar- riage as a union between a man and a woman.
See also Butterfield However, he never managed to do a coming out as a political act that would have introduced sexual difference in the public sphere. The bridge is never far away. Ahmed , p. Recent LGBT advancements across the world make non-heterosexual struggles appear entirely supportive of rather than occasionally also subversive to neoliberalism, which does not only occlude their intersec- tionally sensitive strands but also obscure their leftist origins e.
The coupling of non-heterosexuality and capitalism has sometimes made the declaratively progressive political groups assume a rather dismissive stance towards the social realities of lesbians and other non-heterosexual people see, e. Esther Newton is the pioneering anthropologist of lesbian and gay com- munities in the United States who did ethnographic work with gay men. She Newton , p. We struggle to assert ourselves. I am citing this here to highlight how the traumatic aspect of the encounter is associated with a loss of language.
However, it was not only communication that was failing but their language itself. It is this loss of the Serbo-Croatian that contributed to pav- ing the way for the armed conflicts which would profoundly damage the hyphen that connects its two components.
What can be done sociologically with such a tricky issue is not only shaped by the biography of the author, but also by the dominant politi- cal discourses in any single country. Pervasive political narratives, like the one of the Homeland War in Croatia, constrain the topical perimeter in the institutional sites of sociological knowledge production. In this regard, she asks whether LGBT activist initiatives could encourage trans-ethnic networks of solidarity and support that would open up a path towards a different kind of polity in this profoundly divided country.
References Ahmed, S. Living a feminist life. Baraitser, L. Enduring time. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. We were gasping for air: Post- Yugoslav anti-war activism and its legacy. Baden-Baden: Nomos. Not in our name: Collective identity of the Serbian women in black. Islands of print media resistance: ARKzin and Republika. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Europeanisation and pride parades in Serbia.
Whose pride? Slootmaeckers, H. Vermeersch Eds. Epilogue: Collecting fragments: Towards post- Yugoslav activ- ist archives. Radoman Eds. Queer Beograd collective: Beyond single-issue activism in Serbia and the post-Yugoslav space. Resisting the evil: post- Yugoslav anti-war contention.
Lesbian activism in the post- Yugoslav space: Sisterhood and unity. Beyond EUtopian promises and disillusions: A conclusion. Binnie, J. Brubaker, R. Retrieved January 7, , from www. Lesbians in revolt. Retrieved January 13, , from www. Femicide: The numbers in Europe. Retrieved January 2, , from www. Discontents of professionalisation: Sexual politics and activism in Croatia in the context of EU accession.
Caruth, C. Unclaimed experience: Trauma, narrative, and history. Chernilo, D. The critique of methodological nationalism: Theory and history. Thesis Eleven, 1 , 98— Clarck-Taoua, P. Cooper, D. Active citizenship and the governmentality of local lesbian and gay politics. Political Geography, 25, — Cvetkovich, A. An archive of feelings: Trauma, sexuality, and lesbian pub- lic cultures. Dioli, I. Belgrade, Queeroslavia.
Retrieved December 10, , from www. Intersectional traumatisation: The psychological impact of researching genocidal violence on researchers. London: Routledge. Posttraumatic shame and guilt: Culture and the posttraumatic self. Wilson Ed. New York: Routledge. Retrieved February 10, , from www. Where in the world are lesbians?
Journal of the History of Sexuality, 14 1—2 , 28— Hagan, K. Ewing Eds. Haraway, D. Situated knowledges. Feminist Studies, 14, — Hekma, G. Leftist sexual politics and homosexuality: A historical overview. Journal of Homosexuality, 29, 1— Hobbes, M. Together alone: The epidemic of gay loneliness. Antiratna kampanja Zagreb: Documenta. The first European festival of lesbian and gay film was Yugoslav: Dismantling the geotemporality of Europeanisation in Slovenia.
Cartographies of fear and freedom: Lesbian activists in the first Belgrade and Zagreb pride parades. Kaplan, A. Trauma culture: The politics of terror and loss. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Zagreb: Naprijed. Kowalska, A. Polish queer lesbianism: Sexual identity without the les- bian community. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 15 3 , — Femicid u Srbiji: Femicid u Srbiji: 1. Retrieved January 20, , from www. The feminist challenge to the socialist state in Yugoslavia.
Engaging violence: Trauma, memory and representation. Feminist activism at war: Belgrade and Zagreb feminists in the Nostalgia and Utopia in post-Yugoslav feminist genealo- gies in the light of Europeanisation. Foreword: Searching for our lesbian nests in Yugoslavia and after. A fragile union: New and selected writings.
San Francisco: Cleis Press. Newton, E. Cultural Anthropology, 8 1 , 3— Olasik, M. Location, location: Lesbian performativities that matter or not. Ferreira Eds. Vicarious traumatization in mass violence research: Origins and antidotes.
The woman identified woman. Conclusion: Discovering the lesbian in us: On our ongo- ing, never-ending struggles. Rich, A. Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Signs, 5 4 , — On the other side of an ethnocratic state? Women, Yugoslavia, anti-communist narcosis and new colo- nialism: Maps, roads, exists. Prlenda, J. Slobodna Dalmacija.
Domestic violence in Serbia: Lenient punishments, weekends out, and violence again. Retrieved January 3, , from www. The black hole of trauma. Weisaeth Eds. New York: Guilford Press. Veljak, L. Granice liberalne demokracije. Arhe, 2 4 , — Wimmer, A. Methodological nationalism and beyond: Nation state-building, migration and the social sciences.
Global Networks, 2 4 , — Wittig, M. The straight mind and other essays. Boston: Beacon Press. Wolters, E. What makes a good book? Retrieved January 1, , from www. Shame: The veiled companion of narcissism. Nathanson Ed. Jasna ili o autohomofobiji. After the death of its charismatic lifelong leader Josip Broz Tito, the League of Communists of Yugoslavia slowly became a shell purged of political substance: decades of its intri- cate experiments with state decentralisation, its ever more vocal critics, and tectonic geopolitical shifts sharpened the rift between official declara- tions and social reality to breaking points.
Well accustomed to pornography sold at kiosks2 and screened in cin- emas, the citizens of Yugoslavia lived in the only Eastern European country with a gay festival, called Magnus. If only heterosexual relationship is considered normal, other sexual preferences are barely thought about which, in turn, nourishes stereotypes and prejudices.
Whenever lesbians fully accept their marginalisation, they also agree to self-isolation. We are not isolated only from the society, but also from each other. It is high time we got out of anonymity. Sexual prefer- ence must not be an obstacle to development and self-actualisation. For the latter, only a small incentive is sometimes sufficient. From the conclusion of the Mladina supplement; Suzana et al. That act seized a particularly propitious political moment and encapsulated the yearning for non-heterosexual equality and justice that had been brewing under the public surface.
In those milieus women discov- ered and experimented with their creative agency providing feminist ground for the announcement of lesbian existence and the subsequent emergence of lesbian activist endeavours in Croatia and Serbia. Yugoslav feminist mobilisations arose in a political context that con- sidered them redundant because the state claimed to have achieved gen- der equality.
Wanting to problematise this fundamental assumption without undermining socialism, feminists widened the field of discursive contestation and took issue with the failure of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia to rise to the challenge of destabilising patriarchal values. Feminist activists underscored that the socialist regime did not manage to transform Yugoslav social culture which, in spite of progressive legisla- tion, remained characterised by misogyny and homophobia.
I argue that the embryos of lesbian speakability in the Yugoslav space cannot be detached from the feminist efforts to intervene into and blur the clear-cut, patriarchally bojanello gmail. Even though not all feminists were unequivocally committed to the lesbian cause, there was a tenuous red thread of agreement running through the Yugoslav femi- nist meetings that lesbianity was a feminist matter: feminist and lesbian struggles had the same basic structure and were to be fought hand in hand.
Therefore, our group was anarchist in the best sense of the word and very democratic. We constantly invested into building that democracy and struggled against authoritarianism in our heads that was inclined towards a leader. The difference between our group and the one in Zagreb had to do not only with the form of our work but also with the bojanello gmail.
The women in Zagreb were dealing with theory, writing papers, whereas we were mostly discussing, speaking about our experience and developing self-awareness. This is to say that lesbianity appeared on the feminist activist agenda almost simultaneously in Belgrade and Ljubljana, but Ljubljana—further away from the centre of political power and generally less patriarchal— offered a more favourable institutional and social environment for its public announcement. I was at that time still wondering whether I was a lesbian.
I went there hitchhiking and upon my arrival I was told by the organisers that there was an official rep- resentative from Yugoslavia. That was such a big deal. I was really proud. I came from a hippie generation … believe it or not I was still wearing a skirt … something with small flowers … and she Suzana Tratnik was all in black … I did not get anything … what it was all about … what was the context … how I should interpret that … but it was fantastic … and I was proud of there being an official delegate who came by plane … it was after that, I understood, that she worked a lot to establish LL.
One of the staple features of this learning process was the recognition and naming of vio- lence against women as an urgent political issue in the Yugoslav social context. In this regard, the statement said that violence against women is widespread in our country including rape in marriage13 and outside of it, physical abuse of women and children, sexual harassment of women.
We have agreed to arrange help and self-help for women victims of violence through SOS helplines, counselling centres, and shelters. We ask the relevant institutions to join our initiative because they have not dealt adequately with this issue so far. On the basis of the surveys done with women in Belgrade and Zagreb and presented at the conference, the participants approached violence intersectionally by pointing to pronounced class differences among Yugoslav women.
How can frustration and rage be transformed into political actions? How can we create a different social context within which women could find their desires and needs and step out of their classic roles, isolation, and vacuum? To the question — who will speak on behalf of women workers, who will speak on behalf of Albanian women, who will speak on behalf of Roma women — the answer is clear. But many of them still do not have any social conditions which would allow them to speak up and it is necessary to create such conditions.
These were the seeds of concrete femi- nist interventions that would, after ten years of mostly theoretical work, give Yugoslav feminism practical dimensions and develop into formally registered organisations, many of which are active until today. At that time, some of us were passionate about ending patriarchy here-and-now and the first thing was to create women-only groups to empower women to get out of male violence.
In Belgrade, we formed a feminist SOS Helpline for women and children survivors of vio- lence in , and we quickly realised that more than half of us were les- bians. There are similar stories from many places: Glasgow, Berlin, Bologna, Montreal. This was an avant-garde request which would not find its legal materialisation across the region in the next two to three decades.
Announcing lesbian exis- tence and articulating lesbian-related issues was a burdensome task that was not welcome by all members of activist groups. Because of this, lesbians were not completely accepted within feminist groups, it was quite a complicated situation. Just joining a feminist group was in itself a big step for many women, but thinking seriously about lesbianity was too much.
It was there that many of us acknowledged that we were lesbians, so with time we decided to separate from the main group … not because we had an urge for sepa- ration but because we felt that there was some discomfort in one part of the group which was due to us being lesbians … we isolated ourselves from them in order to protect them from that discomfort and so that we our- selves could feel better.
Some women publicly stated that they were dis- turbed by the fact that there were lesbian members of the group, so we decided to protect ourselves from them and to protect them from us. During the Zagreb meeting there was an anonymous public opinion survey pertaining to lesbianity which showed that some women thought it should be treated in a more open way.
In the majority of Western and even Eastern European countries, lesbians have managed to break the barrier of silence and isolation by opening their clubs and creat- ing a network of lesbian organisations. Our different age and occupation should not at all be an obstacle to our common work. It was not able to achieve all of its goals, but there were some posi- tive results: there was a place where women could be together and relax there was no public place in Zagreb where lesbians could meet.
It was not possible to talk about this with my friends or my mother — I was a lesbian. However, although lesbianity was announced in Croatian media by the members of Lila Initiative—with all the tensions that accompanied such an act—that was not the first time that a woman referred to herself as lesbian in a public event taking place in that Yugoslav republic. There were at least two other instances.
After Suzana Tratnik presented LL, Lydia Sklevicky spoke about a woman who managed to attract media attention in the beginning of the s by saying that she was a lesbian. She was then invited to a meeting of Woman and Society and asked to talk about her sexual orien- tation because members of the group were considering ways of introduc- ing lesbianity as a socially relevant issue.
Sklevicky as cited in Tratnik and Segan , p. And here comes the question that I want to ask all of you who tonight talked about activist groups in Yugoslavia. It has to do with class. Class and women. Because that woman, the one who came out with her opinions, with her confession, she was in terms of class inferior to those who were in the audience. That woman was a typist. I was so shocked because those two friends were sitting next to me. Say something! But they just chuck- led and smiled.
They are both very smart, articulate women, and they are able to carry the stigma of lesbianity because they, in one way of the other, bojanello gmail. Everybody knew that they lived together, they did so for ten years and perhaps they still do. The same class element appears in the article In Search of Yugoslav Lesbians—one of the earliest to mention lesbians in Yugoslavia—pub- lished in Out and About: The Seattle Lesbian Feminist Newsletter in and reprinted in in Off Our Backs, an American radical feminist periodical active between and In this text, Olga , p.
It was there that she managed to get the names and addresses of two Slovenian lesbian women who were supposedly together at the World Figure Skating Championship that took place in Ljubljana. Both of them denied not only their lesbianity but also knowledge of any other lesbians in their country. Marija had no opportunity to learn another language and yet has developed alone her own thinking on male dominance, based on her experiences.
Feminists working at universities have two or three times higher salaries than a les- bian working and putting in the same hours on folding sheets and iron- ing in a hospital or working in a day care centre. A womon who moved from a Southern part of Yugoslavia to the north, was not only discrimi- nated against because of her sex but also because of her darker skin, making a minimum wage.
Getting to know Marija, a working-class lesbian woman, offered Olga an insight into the unfulfilled or only partially fulfilled promises of Yugoslav socialism. In this excerpt Olga paints a striking portrayal of a nexus of discriminations in which misogyny, lesbophobia, classism, and racism are entwined. The Yugoslav nascent feminist movement led by middle-class women was slowly becoming aware of the intersectional nature of oppres- sion and the ways in which class modulates other operators of power gender, sexuality, race, etc.
In Serbia and Croatia,28 the beginning of the s was marked by growing nationalist tensions and demographic debates stimulated by low fertility rates among the dominant ethnic groups Serbs and Croats, respectively. All our republics manipulate us to divert social unrest into hatred of other nationalities.
As feminists, we focus on understanding that differences can enrich us instead of dividing us. We reject the ideology that tells women we must bear more and more children. Such growing political polarisations that would soon endanger the fed- eration and plunge its constitutive parts into an armed conflict were slowly also driving a wedge among feminist activists.
In other words, we are starting to understand how much we differ. Feminist groups will articulate their own programmes of action in all spheres of public and pri- vate life: labour, politics, reproductive rights. Although the Belgrade meeting made it obvious that feminists were not in agreement regarding the most effective strategy of countering the nationalist tide, some of them thought that a more concrete political intervention was in order.
It advocated new gender politics that would be based on partnership between men and women, but it was already too late for such an agenda. The results of the parliamentary elections that took place in December reflected the bojanello gmail. The situation was somewhat better in Croatia where, after the first multiparty elections in April and May , there were 16 women out of members of parliament 4.
Feminist and lesbian groups in Yugoslavia will fight for social visibility of lesbians. This was the last time that Yugoslav feminists decided to offer lesbianity a nest within their circles. They would all come together once again in Ljubljana for the fourth meeting between 17 and 19 May , just a month before the beginning of the Ten-Day War,32 but there, stretched between opposing ideological options and political contexts, and proba- bly painfully aware of the depth of their defeat, they could no longer agree on a final statement.
The Ljubljana gathering thus marked the end of Yugoslav feminism. Among these subaltern counterpublics Fraser , the feminist thread was particularly fruitful and would have a hard time finding counterparts in other Eastern European states. It was this movement that linked the principal Yugoslav urban centres— Belgrade, Zagreb, and Ljubljana—and provided the framework within which lesbian existence and lesbian desire could be announced and politicised.
The feminist counterpublic raised a range of issues that had been over- looked, suppressed, or considered resolved by the socialist regime. Activists demonstrated that the Yugoslav socialist public sphere, although by no means as rigid as it was in Eastern European countries under the Soviet influence, nevertheless was based on the assumption that inter- locutors deliberated as if they were social equals Fraser By doing so, they rejected the idea of single public based on class struggle and of the ultimate victory of the working class that, in turn, led to a supposedly classless society.
They bojanello gmail. Exposing unfulfilled socialist promises and thinking about how they could be adequately addressed meant taking a better look at and destabi- lising the dichotomy between the private and the public. Domestic violence was no longer recognised solely as a marital or family question of sporadic heterosexual couples, but a sys- temic feature of societies characterised by male domination. This decisive look into the private sphere and its intense politicisation also meant that Yugoslav feminism started expanding its social base and added a more practical dimension to its already developed theoretical interests.
Such an evolution was particularly visible with the establishment of helplines for women victims of violence where lesbian activists have played an impor- tant although insufficiently acknowledged role up to this day. Moreover, subaltern counterpublics, like the feminist one in the Yugoslav s, do not only dilate the private sphere or constitute arenas of discursive contestation, but also represent platforms upon which new identities are experimented, formed, and enacted.
In this chapter I have shown how feminist groups—albeit not without tensions—provided an environment and a language with which women could come to terms with and embrace their lesbianity. Feminist counter- public was the scaffolding that helped lesbian desire out of anonymity and the seclusion of a single body in a politically productive manner.
This infrastructural element and protection could go at least some way towards explaining why individual and distinctly courageous lesbian voices which bojanello gmail. Only within a feminist counter- public was it possible for women to go through a process of associating first their names and eventually their names and surnames with their sexual orientation collectively turning lesbianity into a legitimate topic of public discourse. Throughout the s, Yugoslavia, which was in constant political and social flux, reached the apex of its liberties.
However, instead of even brighter futures that its citizens were looking forward to, Yugoslav political space would abruptly shrink and come under a nationalist fire that would make it implode through a series of armed conflicts. Violence that feminist activists wanted to eradicate from the domestic arena would, to their shock, not only increase, but also spill over into the streets and ethnic communities. That unstoppable force of destruc- tion would push feminist alliances to breaking points, count homo- sexuals among the main enemies of the emerging nation-states, and plunge the region into the times of trauma from which it has not yet recovered.
In her account of the first Magnus Festival, the journalist Vedrana Grisogono , p. And those were precisely the women who encountered an inner dilemma, whether they were lesbians or not. During the debate at that time, fear was expressed that the public would set the equation between feminism and lesbian- ism. Based on this, we concluded that it would be smart to separate things, define them more and send messages separately to the public. Moreover, Mojca Dobnikar, one of the founders of Lilith, says that lesbians were welcome, but also felt frustrated with cer- tain topics which were not so much of their interest pregnancy, abor- tion, parenthood, etc.
Velikonja and Greif When we saw the supplement in Mladina, which we did not know was being prepared, we were very impressed. Of course, the coming into existence of the first lesbian group in Yugoslavia for us is a historic event which we celebrated … In our Belgrade group 30 per cent are lesbian women … we have not thought about publicly declaring ourselves as a lesbian subgroup or as individuals.
What some of us [in Belgrade] dreamed of and wished for was realised by our comrades from Ljubljana and we were really impressed. We do not completely agree with some texts, but that is not important. All lesbian contributors used their names only, without revealing their surnames. She told me it would be time to finally sign my name. For a comparative analysis of hippie and punk subcultures in Slovenia, see Tomc At the time of the Ljubljana meeting, only Slovenian legislation recog- nised marital rape as a criminal offence since These are the terms used by feminist activists themselves and they are here translated literally.
Due to a lack of proper space, however, the activists later squatted prem- ises that belonged to the city of Zagreb. In the end of , this organisation established the first shelter in Eastern Europe for women and children victims of domestic violence. Even 25 years later, some of the earliest lesbian activists were still reluc- tant to talk about their engagement. At the time of their meeting, Marija was a year-old, recently divorced, woman with three children.
She worked as a typist for the Croatian daily Vjesnik. Zagreb newspapers did not want to write about this, but those in Belgrade did. In their issue dedicated to 8 March, they published a big interview with me.
Marija as cited in Olga , p. The changes of the broader political landscape of Eastern Europe stimu- lated by the fall of the Berlin Wall also had their resonances in the weak- ening Yugoslavia. Certainly women will be second-class citizens. In the case of Serbia, the problem was exacerbated by the birth rate dis- parities between Vojvodina and Central Serbia, on the one hand, and Kosovo, on the other. The question of imbalance in population repro- duction was raised by the Serbian regime towards the end of the s as the government pointed to very low birth rates in its northern prov- ince 1.
The youth did not go to serve in the mili- tary in order to impede the separation of any ethnic group from Yugoslavia. Globus, pp. We were gasping for air: post- Yugoslav anti-war activism and its legacy. What nationalism has buried: Yugoslav social scientists on the crisis, grassroots powerlessness and Yugoslavism.
Stubbs, R. Duda Eds. Dobnikar, M. Usmena povijest homoseksualnosti u Hrvatskoj. Zagreb: Domino. Dota, F. Viks, special issue, magazine. Rethinking the public sphere: A contribution to the critique of actually existing democracy. Retrieved March 30, , from www. Vapaj za rezervatom. Svijet, p. Retrieved March 26, , from www. Kerbler, J. Hrvatska: Novinar umro od zime i gladi. Retrieved January 23, , from www. Retrieved March 18, , from www. Feminist resistance to war and vio- lence in Serbia.
Rycenga Eds. Retrieved March 13, , from www. Being a woman in Yugoslavia: Past, present and institu- tional equality. Gadant Ed. London: Zed Books. In search of Yugoslav lesbians. Off Our Backs, 12, 4, 13 and Pulig, S. Retrieved April 12, , from www. Lesbians in Croatia. Shiffman, J. Reproductive rights and the state in Serbia and Croatia.
Spaskovska, L. The last Yugoslav generation: The rethinking of youth poli- tics and cultures in late socialism. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Desperadosi in nomadi. Suzana, R. Tomc, G. A tale of two subcultures: A comparative analysis of hippie and punk subcultures in Slovenia.
In Remembering Utopia: The culture of everyday life in socialist Yugoslavia pp. Prvi jugoslavenski gay radio. Start, p. Tratnik, S. Velikonja, N. Retrieved March 15, , from www. For the first time in Serbian social history, a group of homosexual men and women came together in public space with the view of getting to know each other and talking about how their sexual preferences shaped their lives.
Although activists hardly ever had an opportunity to address the public in any politically meaningful way, they did manage to organise a commemoration of the Stonewall rebellion, which happened at the Belgrade Youth Centre Dom omladine on 27 June In this chapter, I take a look at how the emancipatory promise of the Yugoslav s was disrupted and the vibrancy of its feminist lesbian mobilisations truncated—albeit never extinguished—throughout the wars of the Yugoslav succession.
This pushed many activists into exhausting struggles for physical space, made them leave their coun- tries, or retreat into the relative safety of private milieus. Taylor7 , p. Activist groups exposed to hostile climates tend to become exclusive and prefer homogenous membership as that makes them more likely to endure. They centralise in order to strengthen their stability and sustain participation of their key members by providing a sense of secu- rity and meaning. Initiatives pushed into abeyance start revolving around ties of love and friendship as intimate personal relationships become entwined with the activist cause,8 increasing individual commitment to the group.
Although movements in abeyance may have little impact in their own time, they provide major organisational and structural bridges between two more publicly oriented periods of contestation in our case the one before and the one after the wars. As they persist in politically inimical environments, such endeavours supply incentives for sharpening identitarian claims.
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