[PAST EVENT] Queer Exile: Russian Emigres in Interwar Berlin and Paris

October 15, 2020
Headshot of speaker Roman Utkin

What is it like to be an exile within exile? To find one’s queer self doubly alienated among fellow refugees? This talk explores configurations of queer subjectivity in interwar Europe’s Russian diaspora. The story of the sizeable community of Russians who found themselves in exile in Berlin and Paris after the Bolshevik Revolution is richly documented in art and scholarship. Yet queer lives and experiences are largely absent from this story, save for the homophobic currents in the oeuvre of Vladimir Nabokov. However, his unapologetically gay and virtually unknown brother Sergey helps us discover how queer artists and intellectuals contented with the heteronormative world. The case of the Nabokov brothers reorients assumptions about kinship and shows how gender, sexuality, and ethnicity are interconnected in diasporic belonging.  

Funding provided by the Gregory Tepper Lecture Fund, the German Studies Program, and the Reves Center for International Studies