Prof. Dimitris Papanikolaou (University of Oxford), “Critically queer and haunted: on how (not) to do the history of Greek (homo)sexuality”
ABSTRACT – Developing a history of modern Greek queer emergence and homosexual subcultures has always been a challenge. While for many outside Greece the country has always been quite queer anyway (and for many travelers, queerly available), for non-Greek institutions the possibility of a Greek queer history was for decades an unthinkable undertaking. The lecture will put both these views in context and describe how they have now been overtaken by new political, social and analytical developments. It will also ask: How can one do the history of Modern Greek homosexuality at the present moment, in a country where intersectional precarity, neoliberal control and proliferating austerity measures ensure that rights and political demands are always in jeopardy? How can we historicise the ways in which rising levels of ethnonationalism and neoconservative rhetoric create a phobic atmosphere, at the very moment when sexual and gender difference become more pronounced and are finally supported by institutional frameworks? Taking its cue from the shaming campaign of a cross-dressed man found cruising in the outskirts of Athens in 2016 and an analysis of the influential film Strella: A Woman’s Way (2009), the lecture will argue that we need to develop a new model of doing queer history in the present. Such a model will be both sensitive to the fluidity and historical challenge of emergence, but also remain ready to dwell on long histories of disavowal, orientalist essentialization, institutionalized homophobia, and suppression.