August 13th – August 18th 2012 in Skopje, Macedonia
The Department for Gender Studies organized, for the first time, the Summer Institute on Sexualities, Cultures and Politics, as a new permanent project initiated by the Euro-Balkan Institute, Skopje, in cooperation with the Faculty of Media and Communications – SINGIDUNUM, Belgrade. The Institute was held in Skopje, in the period from 13-18.08.2012.
The general aim of the Institute is to gather young post-graduate students, scholars and teaching staff from both Eastern and Western Europe and promote a shared platform for research and trans-disciplinary theoretical reflection on the complex modes of interweaving sexuality, culture and politics, and consequently of exchanging and questioning geopolitically determined discourses in the research of sexualities, gender studies, and queer theory. Our idea is to provide students, scholars and teachers with the opportunity to question, decenter and democratize these areas by way of deferring the notion of theoretical and geopolitical privilege which is often implied by these research areas, and thus to introduce new models of rethinking context-specific phenomena related to sexualities and, vice versa, to enrich theoretical paradigms with context specific phenomena and research.
In its first and founding activity in Summer 2012, The Institute was thematically focused on the problem of “Queerness, Community, and Capital: Towards New Alliances of the Political”, and aimed at exploring and reflecting on the complex entanglements of queer theories and practices, the Political, and cultures. We provided space to radically question the hegemonic regimes of political communities’ institutions/sustenance, as well as the global and regional regimes of thinking neo-liberal forces. Hence, the Institute’s goal was to trace the multiple pathways through which queerness enters or exits the political projects of community constitution, in its various forms: revived nationalisms, communism’s legacy and the European community, on the one hand, and the global neo-liberal markets’ imperatives and their consequent commodification of identities and processes of de-democratization and de-politicization. Departing from such a research framework, the Institute aimed towards re-visioning the dominant forms of queer political struggles and strategies of resistance and tried to investigate the possibilities stemming from queerness and its already existing political embodiments and specific historical experiences, as well as the actual and virtual opportunities in various geopolitical contexts for rethinking our shared and general categories of politics, resistance, and community.
The Summer Institute included series of lectures and discussions, given by some of the most prominent scholars in the field of sexuality, gender, culture and politics, in the region and worldwide. The Institute was inaugurated by an opening two-day lecture by David Halperin, who, in this occasion, presented his latest work, also published as, “How to Be Gay”. The following days included lectures by prof. Marina Grzinic (Ljubljana, Slovenia and Vienna, Austria), prof. Jelisaveta Blagojevic (Belgrade, Serbia) and Jamie Heckart (University of Essex, UK).