The conference has two keynote lectures and a keynote panel discussion commemorating the fifty years that have passed since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Finland in 1971 and focusing on the histories of homosexualities in the Nordic and Baltic countries.
Kate Fisher is a professor of history at University of Exeter who specializes in the history of sexuality, particularly during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is a director of Sexual Knowledge Unit that brings together scholars from across the humanities, social sciences and biomedical sciences who are engaged in research about sex, gender and sexuality and co-directs the Wellcome-funded Rethinking Sexology Project. She has published extensively on topics related to sexual knowledge and sexual science, sexuality and gender, birth control and social history of sexuality. She also co-directs the Sex & History sex-education project. Professor Fisher’s webpage: https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/staff/fisher/
Keynote lecture: "I couldn't find myself in history. No one like me seemed to have ever existed." Who needs the History of Sexuality?
The history of gender diversity, sex and sexuality is perennially fascinating. In making sense of our emotions, desires and identities we often turn to the past. This paper explores how professional (largely university based) historians have understood the value of the knowledge they produce, and examines the tensions between some of the epistemological philosophies that shape our research and writing, and our responsibilities to shaping the contemporary world. It asks how historians of sexuality can maintain our conceptual rigour and theoretical complexity without making the history of sexuality an exercise in power that erases the voices of marginalised communities. How can we maintain a commitment to democratising access to the past and meet our ethical responsibilities to address inequalities and social injustice in the present.
Julian Honkasalo is an Academy of Finland postdoctoral research scholar in gender studies, University of Helsinki. Honkasalo obtained their PhD in gender studies at the University of Helsinki in 2016, with a dissertation on feminist interpretations of Hannah Arendt. Honkasalo obtained a second PhD in political science at the New School for Social Research in 2018, with a dissertation on Hannah Arendt and biopolitics. The dissertation was awarded with the New School's Hannah Arendt Award in Politics. Honkasalo's current, postdoctoral research focuses on contemporary offshoots of twentieth-century race hygiene, gender norms and eugenic discourse from a Foucaultian perspective. A key question of interest in the project is understanding how minorities resist biopolitical violence.
Keynote lecture: Desiring gender: care as a radical political concept in 1960s Nordic trans activism
Queer history of care as well as feminist research on non-heterosexual care labor often focus on practices of care in the context of the 1980s and 90s HIV/AIDS pandemic as a paradigm example of resistance to structural violence. In such a context queer care-taking and care-giving is theorized as the making of alternative communities, safety-networks and kinship structures from those of the heterosexual family institution and the heteronormative State – both of which failed the queer community during the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Drawing and building on previous queer and feminist care scholarship, I examine care-taking and care-giving as they emerge in Nordic, 1960s transfeminine community building and argue that 1) care is importantly related to desire and 2) that care should be revitalized as a radical, political concept. Whereas queer studies often theorize desire as a concept related to eroticism, sexuality, cruising and sexual identity, I argue that when examined in the context of 1960s transfeminine community building, desire emerges as a deeply gendered concept, related to the play, pleasure, euphoria and freedom of living and being grounded in one’s body. Desire becomes particularly meaningful in trans community contexts where gendered identities are imagined, created and claimed, regardless of the every-day risks of shame, rejection, marginalization and violence. Finally, desire and care are interrelated in ways that are often overlooked in medicalized trans history scholarship which emphasize gender dysphoria as a primary, constitutive experience of being trans.
Andrés Brink Pinto
Andrés Brink Pinto is Associate Professor (Docent) in history at Lund University. Since 2019 he is working as a researcher at the department of Gender Studies, Lund University, on a project dealing with the policing of homosexuality in Stockholm 1944-1968 (grant no VR 2018-01161). Previously he has done research on youth riots, militant antifascism and norms of class, gender and sexuality within the Swedish communist movement.
Tone Hellesund is a professor of cultural studies (ethnology) at the University of Bergen. She has written about romantic friendships and the spinster as a queer figure, about narratives of homosexuality and suicide, about the second wave women’s movement and sexuality, and about contemporary intimate lives outside the traditional family. She is now working on a project about what she calls “innovators of intimacy” and queer domesticity before 1920. She is also the founder of the Norwegian queer archive, and is invested in helping to queer the focus of the cultural heritage sector.
Uku Lember is Associate Professor of Contemporary History at Tallinn University. He defended his doctoral dissertation at Central European University with an oral history of Russian-Estonian mixed marriages in the late Soviet period. After that he conducted a study of culturally mixed marriages in Ukraine and he is now working on queer history of Soviet Estonia with a focus on oral histories of gay men in late socialism. He has spent an academic year as a receipent of Telluride scholarship at Cornell University and has held post-doctoral fellowships at Uppsala University and at New Europe College (Bucharest). His latest publication is „Memory and Asymmetry in Russian-Estonian Intermarriages in Estonia during Late Socialism,“ in Intermarriage from Central Europe to Central Asia, ed. by A. Edgar and B. Frommer, 137−161, (University of Nebraska Press, 2020).
Ineta Lipša is a senior researcher at the University of Latvia, Institute of Latvian History. Her research is based in gender and sexuality studies. She has published a monograph on the history of sexuality and social control in Latvia from 1914 to 1939 (2014, in Latvian). She has an experience working in collaboration with community organisations (Association of LGBT and their friends Mozaika) making an exhibition on LGBTI history in the 20th century (2015). She has also engaged in public history activities writing a popular history book LGBTI people in Latvia: a history of the past 100 years (2017, in Latvian, 2018, in English). Her current research is focused on sexuality, gender and social control in the Soviet Latvia.
Chair of the panel discussion: Tuula Juvonen
DSocSci Tuula Juvonen works as a senior lecturer of Gender Studies at Tampere University. She has conducted research in five Academy of Finland funded projects and published awarded and ground-breaking monographs about Finnish LGBT history. Most recently she has led an AoF funded research project Affective Inequalities in Intimate Relationships (2015–2020) and worked as a collegium researcher at Turku Institute for Advanced studies with a project titled Affective Attachments: Genders and Sexualities in Flux (2018–2020). She has taught Gender and Queer Studies at several Finnish universities and at University of Hamburg as a visiting professor. She has been a recurrent co-editor of chief for a peer-reviewed scholarly journal SQS – Journal of the Society of Queer Studies in Finland and is currently coediting its special issue on Queer History Month. She is a cofounder and the first chairperson of a registered association Friends of Queer History and has been awarded for her ongoing collaboration with memory institutions to preserve Finnish LGBTQ histories.