Queer(y)ing Kinship in the Baltic Region

Field: Genusvetenskap
Project leader: Ulrika Dahl
Starting year: 2014
Project type: Project

Queer(y)ing kinship in the Baltic Region is an empirically based and theoretically driven project in interdisciplinary gender studies that investigates how non-heterosexual, or queer, families are made, represented and treated in different national contexts around the Baltic Sea at the 20st century and what this might teach us about the meaning and status of kinship, family making and ideas of the future more broadly. Departing from Judith Butler’s definition of kinship as “a set of practices that institutes relationships of various kinds which negotiate the reproduction of life and the demands of death” (2002, 14) and as the first project of its kind, it focuses an understudied dimension of Baltic and Central/Eastern European Studies; the everyday intimate lives of sexual minorities and particularly, queer family making. With a comparative and collaborative framework, it examines different national, cultural and legal contexts and combines ethnographic and textual research on the lived and discursive effects of both new legislation and non-sanctioned forms of queer kinship, including rainbow families, same-sex marriages, and queer community arrangements of care, will-writing practices and a range of reproductive choices. In critical dialogue with international scholarship, it intervenes on the level of theory and seeks to decentre the Western, Anglo-American dominance of feminist and queer kinship studies as they relate to constructions of national identity, community making and social life. The project rejects a liberal narrative of progress that casts the “East” as “behind” the “West”, including in terms of lesbian, gay, bi, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights. By using an intersectional theoretical framework that examines how kinship reproduces particular understandings of gender, sexuality, relatedness and belonging that also reflect larger issues of race, nation, class, age and ability it focuses on complexities, nuances and exchanges in and across these nations’ respective legal and cultural frameworks and seeks to provide deepened knowledge of the socio-cultural and political situation of LGBTQ people. Through a unique research design based in intellectual kinship between project participants and by combining existing and new research, the project aims to make a substantive theoretical contribution to the field of “new studies of kinship” and to make CBEES a strong centre for queer(y)ing kinship in the Baltic and Eastern/Central European region.

Final report - Ulrika Dahl - Queer(y)ing Kinship in the Baltic region