Gender and Sexuality Studies Under Attack in Central-Eastern Europe

What are the historical, political, social and cultural sources of the attacks on Gender and Sexuality Studies in Central-Eastern Europe? Are they local or rather fueled by transnational conservative movements? What are possible strategies and solidarities (local and global) to counteract them? This roundtable is part of the ACES lecture series Gender and Sexuality in European (Geo)Politics.


In the mid-2010s Poland and Hungary witnessed an outburst of xenophobia, racism and attacks on feminists (called genderists) and LGBTQI+ communities. In Budapest, Warsaw and other cities in the region gay prides were brutally attacked. In Poland, equality-based sex education was pushed out of schools. People of colour became targets of everyday violence. Critical academics voiced their concerns. As a result, critical social sciences and humanities in Central Europe are under attack. In Hungary gender studies were removed from universities, and the Central European University was expelled. In Poland ethnology and cultural anthropology are no longer registered as academic disciplines. Gender and queer studies are framed by conservative forces as a dangerous ‘ideology’.

About the speakers

Tomasz Basiuk teaches in the American Studies program at the University of Warsaw. He is author and co-editor of several books about contemporary American fiction and life writing, queer studies, archives and oral history including: Out Here (2006), The American Uses of History (2011) and American Gay Men’s Life Writing since Stonewall (2013). In 2016-2019 he was Principal Investigator in a HERA-funded project ‘Cruising the Seventies: Unearthing pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures’ (CRUSEV).

Agnieszka Kościańska is Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies and an associate professor at the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw. She is the author and (co)editor of several volumes on gender and sexuality, including the monographs, Gender, Pleasure, and Violence: The Construction of Expert Knowledge of Sexuality in Poland (Indiana University Press 2021, Polish edition 2014) and To See a Moose: The History of Polish Sex Education (forthcoming with Berghahn Books, edition Polish 2017), and the special issue of Sexualities, ‘The science of sex in a space of uncertainty’ (2016, with Hadley Renkin).

Hadley Z. Renkin received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. Currently he is Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, his research focuses on postsocialist sexual politics and their geotemporal histories, as well as the intersecting historical trajectories of sexuality, anthropology, and other sciences. His current book project is Disorientations: Queer Politics and Geotemporal Belonging in Hungary’s Postsocialist Conjuncture, an in-depth ethnographic study of Hungary’s LGBTQI+ movement.

Moderation: Linda Duits

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