Ana Hoffner

Queer Perspectives in and on Europe

In reaction to the recent attacks on queer parades in Belgrade, Zagreb and Sarajevo, the project investigated how sexuality is organized in contemporary Europe. Conventional ways of explaining homophobia were deconstructed from a queer perspective, showing how nationalism cannot be understood as a cause of homophobia; rather, nationalism and the homophobia related to it are effects of global processes of restructuring, at the center of which is the construction of a united Europe. The goal of European unification can be observed as going back to the radical break in East European history that was the collapse of the iron curtain in 1989 and especially since the eastern expansion of the European Union in 2004.

At present, certain forms of same-sex politics seem crucial for the construction of a unified Europe. The introduction of the Western discourse of sexual liberation into Eastern Europe and the inclusion of sexual otherness within the structure of the nation state and the capitalist market have posed sexual supremacy as an important instrument of a Eurocentric colonial project. Through homonormativity and queerness, which serve as examples of the West’s sexual emancipation, the post-Socialist East has been defined as homophobic. The discourse of sexual salvation formed in this way legitimizes the policy of expansion and the extension of the capitalist market, which have been taking place since 1989 and which ensure comprehensive control over Eastern Europe.

Privatization and neo-liberal restructuring, reminiscent of the colonialist exploitation by the Habsburg monarchy, have led to a kind of social deregulation and immiseration, which remain largely unmentioned in the name of European unity. Eastern European regions, characterized as transitional in terms of all socio-political, economical and cultural questions, are made dependent on Western truth regimes. Sexual emancipation as an example of such a truth regime plays a crucial role when it is a question of declaring certain forms of sexuality as worthy of protection. These sexualities are further used to stigmatize entire populations as sexually unemancipated and, therefore, not ready for the EU.

The project was based on the idea that contemporary forms of sexual politics are embedded in exactly these processes. The concept of civilizing, shaped by colonialism, is carried on in the model of a democratically functioning civil society, which includes the integration of the formerly sexually Other. Such a civil society is supposed to be established in post-Socialist states. Yet the apparent openness of West European societies to sexual diversity, as the distant goal of civilization for Eastern Europe, is itself nonfunctional. In Germany, for example, the struggle against homophobia has currently become part of an integration policy that constitutes migrants as representatives of the homophobic Other within a democratically structured society. By making homophobia a problem of others, the majority of the society can appear (neo-)liberal and tolerant.
Ana Hoffner

Ana Hoffner presented her research results in the form of two lecture performances and a panel discussion.

Ana Hoffner held a talk her work and working methods at Julia Prager’s seminar Gender Studies at the Institute of Languages and Literatures, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Innsbruck.

Ana HOFFNER (*1980 in Yugoslavia) is an artist, theorist, performer and mentor based in Vienna. Hoffner studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and works in the fields of queer and migrant/postcolonial politics. Her projects include exhibitions, performances, lectures and publications in Austria and abroad.