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Multiculturalism, Ethnicity, and Prisons: Russia, Georgia, and Estonia  

Costanza Curro, Judith Pallot, and Olga Zeveleva

Ethnic difference and ethnic identity constructions are examined in prison settings. While a vast academic literature examines prisons as sites of ethnic and racial identity constructions in the United States and Europe, studies of Soviet and post-Soviet prisons have not been included in this scholarly dialogue. Thus, ethnic identity negotiations in prisons in the former Soviet Union are examined. Soviet legacies in policies and practices toward ethnic and religious difference in prison services and the contrasting trajectories away from the Soviet penal model in different jurisdictions after 1991 are considered. Examination of Russia focuses on Muslim prisoners and official and popular responses to moral panic about “prison jihad.” Subsequent analysis turns to elements of Soviet legacies in two other post-Soviet countries: Georgia and Estonia. New trends and reforms unique to each case (including the architectural and spatial organization of incarceration) are identified, the role of prison subcultures is discussed, and analysis is provided as to how these prison systems reflect or refract overall trends of ethnic discrimination and marginalization in each country.

Article

Queer African Studies  

Godfried Asante

The main goals of the rapidly growing interdisciplinary field of queer African studies (QAS) are to (a) resist the continual (post)colonial perpetuation of “African culture” as a homogenous entity devoid of diverse nonnormative genders and sexualities, (b) seek to decenter universal Western epistemological framing of queerness, and (c) reveal the intersectional ways that queer African subjectivities are experienced. Drawing primarily from African/Africanist scholarship and queer theory/studies, QAS seeks to create more fluidities between a network of activists and university-based professors to produce contextually relevant and grounded studies that center African experiences in conversations on gender and sexuality. In particular, scholarship in QAS places Africans’ lived experiences as the starting point to theorize queerness. As an interdisciplinary field of study with scholars from history, anthropology, political science, sociology, legal studies, and African studies, QAS has emerged as an essential theoretical intervention in African studies, queer of color critique, and postcolonial studies. In this way, it opens up spaces to interrogate the theoretical and material concerns of queer theory and African studies beyond its westernized origins and focus. For same-gender-loving, queer, nonbinary, and trans Africans, for whom queer theory’s historical beginnings seem to have written them out of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex+ Euro American history, their emergent contributions to the now institutionally anchored discipline of queer theory, and queer studies in communication, provide a necessary corrective and decolonial endeavor to decentralize the Euro American lens in which queerness tends to be theorized and explored. In this regard, while “queering” Africa is a necessary project for some scholars, “Africanizing” queer studies equally provide the epistemological shifts needed to dislodge the West as the source and referent for queer theorizing. The field of communication studies is diverse in its formations and production of knowledge. However, the different subfields all cohere around the commitment to theorizing the symbolic and material systems of communication that enable individuals to make sense of their lives and their positionalities in both local and transnational contexts. QAS can invariably contribute to the various subfields of communication studies by providing an alternative epistemological framework for analyzing language and meaning, especially as they pertain to gender and sexuality.

Article

Queer Music Practices in the Digital Realm  

Ben De Smet

The relevance of music in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexually nonnormative (LGBTQ+) lives and identities has been extensively established and researched. Studies have focused on queer performances, fandom, night life, and other aspects of music to examine the intimate, social, and political relations between music and LGBTQ+ identities. In a time where music culture is produced, distributed, and consumed increasingly in digital spaces, relations between music and LGBTQ+ identities are meaningfully informed by these spaces. As this is a relatively recent development and offline music practices remain profoundly meaningful and relevant, the amount of research on queer digital music practices remains modest. However, a rich body of literature in the fields of popular music studies, queer studies, and new media studies provides an array of inspiring angles and perspectives to shed light on these matters, and this literature can be situated and critically linked. For over half a century, popular music studies have directed their attention to the relations between the social and the musical. Under the impulse of feminist studies, gender identities soon became a prominent focus within popular music studies, and, driven by LGBTQ+ studies, (non-normative) sexual identities soon followed. As popular music studies developed a rich theoretical basis, and feminist and queer studies evolved over the years into more intersectional and queer directions, popular music studies focusing on gender and/or sexuality gradually stepped away from their initial somewhat rigid, binary perspectives in favor of more open, dynamic, and queer perspectives. Following a similar path, early new media studies struggled to avoid simplistic, naïve, or gloomy deterministic analyses of the Internet and new media. As the field evolved, alongside the technologies that form its focus, a more nuanced, mutual, and agency-based approach emerged. Here, too, scholars have introduced queer perspectives and have applied them to research a range of LGBTQ+-related digital phenomena. Today, popular music, sexual identities, and new media have become meaningful aspects of social life, and much more remains to be explored, in particular on the intersection of these fields. A diverse array of queer fan practices, music video practices, and music streaming practices are waiting to be examined. The theory and the tools are there.

Article

Stress and Coping in Sexual and Gender Minority Relationships  

Steven Samrock, Kai Kline, and Ashley K. Randall

LGBTQ+ is an inclusive term used to encompass sexual and gender minority individuals in aspects of their diversity related to sexual and gender expression. Specifically, LGBTQ+ refers to individuals who may identify as lesbian (L), gay (G), bisexual (B), transgender (T), queer (Q), or other sexual and/or gender identities (+). Given that many individuals live in heteronormative and cisnormative societies, the LGBTQ+ community experiences unique stressors specific to their traditionally marginalized identity/identities; such experiences are defined as experiences of minority stress. Aspects of minority stress, including stigma, prejudice, and discrimination, generate stressful social environments for LGBTQ+ individuals and these experiences are often negatively associated with individual and relationship well-being. For example, if an individual experiences harassment for their sexual and/or gender identity, they may experience feelings of distress and be more reserved with public displays of affection with their partner. As such, one romantic partner’s experience of minority stress can impact both they and their partner’s experiences. Relationship maintenance behaviors, such as communicating and coping with the stress together with one’s partner (dyadic coping), have been identified that may help mitigate minority stress’ deleterious effects. Dyadic coping is a process that conceptualizes how partners cope with stress in the context of their relationship, identifying how partners communicate their stress and the respective coping behaviors. Finally, there has been an insurgence of relationship education programs designed to help LGBTQ+ couples identify and cope with experiences of minority stress. For example, the Couples Coping Enhancement Training–Sexual Minority Stress incorporates the unique experiences of sexual minority couples to help couples improve (minority) stress management; enhance their ability to cope as a couple; sensitize both partners to ideas of mutual fairness, equity, and respect; improve communication; and improve (emotional) problem-solving skills.

Article

Transnational and Queer Diasporic Sexualities  

Fatima Zahrae Chrifi Alaoui

Research on transnational and queer diasporic sexualities is still in its infancy but continues to evolve rapidly as understandings of sexuality and queer identity become further complicated. The nuanced and contextual intersections of queer identity as paired with cultural specificity amplify and redefine queerness across space. Pushing back against long-standing notions of what queer looks like in the West, transnational and diasporic queer sexual identities transcend normative definitions of what sexualities can look like outside of rigid binary thinking. Considering three core themes—Western hegemony, transnational and queer diasporic families, and blurring the First/Third World binary—offers the ability to highlight lived experiences to better understand the complexities of the past, present, and future of transnational and queer diasporic sexualities.

Article

Diffusion of Innovations from the West and Their Influences on Medical Education in Japan  

Mariko Morishita and Miho Iwakuma

In the 19th century, Western medicine spread widely worldwide and ultimately diffused into Japan. It had a significant impact on previous Japanese medical practice and education; it is, effectively, the foundation of contemporary Japanese medicine. Although Western medicine seems universal, its elements and origins as it has spread to other countries show localized differences, depending on the context and time period. Cultural fusion theory proposes that the culture of a host and influence of a newcomer conflict, merge, or transform each other. It could shed light on how Japanese medicine and medical education have been influenced by and coevolved with Western medicine and culture. Cultural fusion is not assimilation or adaptation; it has numerous churning points where the traditional and the modern, the insider (indigenous) and the outsider (immigrant), mix and compete. In Japan, medicine has a long history, encountering medical practices from neighboring countries, such as China and Korea in ancient times, and Western countries in the Modern period. The most drastic changes happened in the 19th century with strong influence from Germany before World War II and in the 20th century from the impact of the United States after World War II. Recently, the pressure of globalization could be added as one influence. Since cultural fusion is ubiquitous in Japanese medical fields, examples showing how the host and newcomers interact and merge can be found among many aspects of Japanese medicine and medical education, such as curricula, languages, systems, learning styles, assessment methods, and educational materials. In addition, cultural fusion is not limited to influence from the West but extends to and from neighboring Asian countries. Examining cases and previous studies on cultural fusion in Japanese medicine and medical education could reveal how the typical notion that Japan pursued Westernization of its medicine and medical education concealed the traditions and the growth of the local education system. The people involved in medicine in the past and the present have struggled to integrate the new system with their previous ideals to improve their methods, which could be further researched.

Article

Divorce and Relational Termination  

Madeleine Redlick Holland and Pamela J. Lannutti

Given that the legalization of same-sex marriage at the federal level is a relatively new phenomenon, it is not surprising that research related to divorce and dissolution of LGBTQ+ relationships is in the early stages of its development. Research has begun identifying unique factors that may place LGBTQ+ relationships at increased risk of dissolution, including minority stress, lack of resources, and nontraditional relational arrangements. Additionally, nuances in the experience of dissolution that LGBTQ+ people may face have begun receiving scholarly attention, such as a lack of general awareness of LGBTQ+ divorce. This research has further revealed that the relationships that ex-partners may develop after romantic relationship dissolution carry different expectations, norms, and forms than those associated with non-LGBTQ+ relationships. There is still much room for growth and exploration in this area. Specifically, future researchers might consider integrating perspectives that move away from minority stress theory or qualitative research methods.

Article

Gay Pornography  

Joseph Brennan

Commercial, moving-image, hardcore, all-male pornography (otherwise known as “gay pornography”) emerged in the United States in the 1970s when, for the first time, many of the cultural inhibitions and legal restrictions on explicit gay sexual content were swept away with the current of a sexual revolution—prompted in large part by the 1969 Stonewall riots. In 2022, its study constitutes a thriving subfield of porn studies. This qualitative review starts with the contributions of foundational essayists (Richard Dyer and Thomas Waugh) in a 1985 edition of Jump Cut, followed by discussion of the contributions of three special issues on the subject (in 2004, 2015 and 2017) in the Journal of Homosexuality, Psychology & Sexuality, and Porn Studies—through which a case is made for the instrumental role of these specials in the subfield’s exponential growth, commencing circa 2015. “Bareback” (the on-screen abandonment of the condom) and “gay-for-pay” (a gay-sex-strictly-for-remuneration fantasy and career construction/identity) are marked out for separate consideration as two profoundly dominant (and uniquely gay-aligned) conditions to which much of the subfield’s (relatively) recent flourishing can be attributed. The final section organizes extant literature according to key bulges and thrusts across text, industry, and audience concerns, with John Mercer, Jeffrey Escoffier, and Todd G. Morrison, respectively, nominated as the key architects of the critical, 21st-century groundwork on which the subfield owes much of its contemporary vibrancy. This is a dynamic survey, acknowledging the author’s own disciplinary stake (cultural studies) via qualitative, strategic selection of some eminent and emerging themes from across the literature. Crucially, allowance for future updates is built into its structure and method; key themes can be added as new priorities emerge, expanded, or shifted, with the ebb and flow of the subfield’s agenda items (should thrusts come to bulge or bulges lose impetus).

Article

Homonationalism’s Viral Travels  

Hana Masri

First defined by Jasbir Puar in 2007, homonationalism refers to the collusion between LGBTQ subjects or rights discourses and nationalism. This definition contrasts with previous transnational queer and feminist analyses. Homonationalism instead describes a form of national homonormativity and sexual exceptionalism in which some LGBTQ subjects are complicit with, rather than excluded from, nationalism and imperialism. This recognition and incorporation into the nation is predicated on the nation’s production and disposal of populations of racial and sexual others, particularly through Orientalist constructions of undesirable Muslim and Arab sexualities and genders. The literature on homonationalism thus explains how certain queer and trans subjectivities are mobilized in service of modernity’s racial, capitalist, imperial, and colonial projects, such as the U.S. “War on Terror.” In addition to this original definition, the framework of homonationalism has been expanded to refer to the way LGBTQ rights have become a barometer by which to evaluate nations’ and populations’ right to sovereignty at the global political scale. This includes, for example, discourses that use notions of sexually progressive multiculturalism to justify foreign intervention. Scholars and activists alike have applied the framework of homonationalism widely, to the degree that the homonationalism has been referred to as a viral concept. Much of this uptake focuses on “pinkwashing,” a manifestation of homonationalism that refers to a nation-state’s promotion of its “gay-friendly” record in order to obscure other types of political violence, including colonialism, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing. At the same time, homonationalism’s extensive uptake has led to a proliferation of perspectives that complicate, challenge, and expand the concept’s usage; though the conditions it names emerge across contexts, its instantiations vary based on historical and geopolitical context. These differences in application inform critiques of the concept, which tend to focus on the overextension and universalization of the concept at the expense of its clarity, context specificity, and utility for activism seeking to contest homonationalist policies and practices.

Article

LGBTQ Youth Cultures and Social Media  

Olu Jenzen

Research has established that access to the Internet and social media is vital for many lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer + (LGBTQ+) young people. LGBTQ+ social media youth cultures form across platforms and are shaped by a range of media affordances and vernaculars. LGBTQ+ youth use social media for self-expression, connecting with other LGBTQ+ young people, entertainment, activism, and collecting and curating information. Through a digital cultural studies approach, the essay discusses themes of LGBTQ+ youth identity work, communities and networked publics, and youth voice to explore how digital and social media imaginaries and practices produce new forms of socialites. It situates LGBTQ+ youth social media practices in relation to the affective economy and algorithmic exclusion of platforms, as well as in relation to neoliberal paradigms of gender and sexuality and homotolerance.