Informed by feminist and queer scholarship debates on sexuality, migration, and the nation, this article examines the role of violence—in particular, homophobic hate speech—in negotiating immigrant belonging through sexuality. The article is based on my ethnographic study of Russian-speaking queers who arrived in Israel from the former Soviet Union. My discussion starts from one ethnographic moment—a homophobic poem published in 2002 in a leading Russian Israeli newspaper. The poem condemned the 2002 Pride parade as blasphemous and blamed the marchers for endangering the Jewish nation, which was depicted as fighting for survival. The poem's offensive language was haunted by ghosts of a violent Soviet past, evoked through Soviet criminal jargon and intertextual references to gulag memoirs where same-sex relations were described as disgusting and monstrous. Following Judith Butler's notion of performativity, I approach homophobic hate speech as a form of performative violence that constitutes, rather than simply expresses or devastates, individual and collective subjectivities of “queers,” “Russian immigrants,” “Jews,” and “Israelis.” Yet I also complicate the performative take by engaging with Avery Gordon's notion of haunting. Understanding haunting and its effects, I argue, is essential when reading immigrants' acts of claiming the nation through rejecting or embracing queer sexualities. Exploring how the ghosts of the Soviet gulags do not simply migrate through time and space but also change and meddle with the realities of today's Israel, this article conceptualizes hate speech as a form of affective sociality.
Adi Kuntsman; BETWEEN GULAGS AND PRIDE PARADES: Sexuality, Nation, and Haunted Speech Acts. GLQ 1 June 2008; 14 (2-3): 263–287. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-2007-033
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