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Sexual Counter-Revolutions and Queer Lives

Alexander Kondakov will explore the political economy of violence in Russia and beyond. Focusing on the structure and drivers of the current sexual counter-revolution by studying emotions manifested in violence against queer populations in Russia, Kondakov reviews texts of court files dealing with sexualised violence in order to understand what the emotional background of this phenomenon is.

Contemporary history has offered numerous occasion when scholars and activists have championed the victories of sexual revolutions: from the socialist innovations at the beginning of the USSR to the feminist achievements in 1960s Western societies, and the ‘transformation of intimacy’ in the 1990s.

Yet, not so much attention has been given to sexual counter-revolutions until very recently. These current reactions to social change in the sexual sphere are not new in form, but the conservative consensus across national borders and political affiliations is striking.

Russia has played an important role in the process of sexual counter-revolution. Its government claimed leadership in the movement by promoting ‘traditional values’ in the UN, and by legislating anti-LGBT and anti-feminist initiatives domestically.

The evening will be introduced by Dr. Richard Mole, UCL, who will also chair a Q&A session with the audience.

Alexander Kondakov, PhD, is a post-doctoral researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland. He is also a research associate at the Centre for Gender, Feminisms and Sexualities, University College Dublin, Ireland. He is the deputy editor-in-chief for the Journal of Social Policy Studies published by the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. For a decade, Kondakov’s work has primarily focused on law and sexuality studies, more specifically on queer sexualities in Russia. He is the author of a report on hate crimes against LGBTQI people in Russia that has shown the rise of violence after the adoption of the gay propaganda bill. His publications include articles in Sexualities, Social and Legal Studies, and Feminist Legal Studies.

Richard Mole's research focuses the relationship between identity and power, with particular reference to nationalism, sexualities, migration and diaspora. His research is explicitly interdisciplinary, crossing the boundaries of Sociology, International Relations, Social Psychology and Socio-Linguistics. He has a strong theoretical interest in discourse - particularly, the post-structuralist discourse theories of Laclau and Mouffe - and a regional interest in Russia and Poland and increasingly on Brazil and other Latin American societies. 

His most recent project examines the intersections between migration and sexuality. He first explored this relationship as part of a large-scale collaborative project on the Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles of London’s East Europeans between SSEES and the UCL Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research. The project, which received funding of £400,000 from the UK Medical Research Council, comprised a survey of over 2,500 East European migrants and 50 in-depth interviews and provided invaluable insights into the sexual behaviour and attitudes of these new communities. 

He is currently Principal Investigator of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2017) 'Delayed Transformational Fatigue in Central and Eastern Europe: Responding to the Rise of Populism' (EUR 3,500,000) and Co-Investigator of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (H2020-SC6- GOVERNANCE-2018) 'Populist rebellion against modernity in 21st-century Eastern Europe: neo-traditionalism and neo-feudalism’ (EUR 3,000,000).