Palgrave, 208 p., 60 livres sterling. ISBN : 9781137321237
Based on extensive ethnographic research, this book explores the everyday lives of ’lesbian’ women in urban Russia. The first part (’time’) examines generational differences between women : it shows how the Soviet system shaped understandings and experiences of same-sex desire, and how same-sex identities and communities have been renegotiated since the demise of state socialism. The second part (’space’) attends to regional variation in contemporary Russia, by considering what ’lesbian’ life looks like in metropolitan Moscow and in the provincial city of Ul’ianovsk. Francesca Stella details how women negotiate their sexualities across different social spaces (the home, the workplace, the street) and explores how ’lesbian’ space is collectively carved out.
Lesbian Lives in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia queries essentialist accounts of Russian sexualities as exceptional and foregrounds gender as key in shaping women’s experiences. The book problematizes western-centric theorizations by critically engaging with existing perspectives on queer geotemporalities, post/socialist modernity and the value of public in/visibility.