The Summer School for Sexualities, Cultures and Politics is a permanent project, originally initiated by the Department for Gender Studies at the Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities “Euro-Balkan”, Skopje, Macedonia and the Faculty of Media and Communications at Singidunum University, Belgrade, Serbia. In 2014, the School has moved to and was taken up organizationally by IPAK Center. It has been founded with great enthusiastic efforts, relentless dedication to queer and gender studies research and a restless desire for introducing and revising hegemonic theories of sexuality and gender in SEE, and the ex-Yugoslav region. The Summer School for Sexualities, Cultures and Politics is the result of a years-long academic collaboration and friendship between Slavcho Dimitrov (queer theory scholar from Macedonia), Stanimir Panayotov (queer theory and philosophy scholar from Bulgaria), being the academic coordinators of the School, and Prof. Jelisaveta Blagojević (queer theory and political philosophy scholar from Serbia), being its Academic Director. The general aim of the School 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 this way, the School’s long-term goal is to:
- Strategically stimulate the particularization and application of key ideas and theories in sexuality research locally;
- Universalize and popularize crucial and underprivileged positions and ideas on the European level, regardless of the East/West divide which is still central to the development of queer theory and sexuality research.
Our endeavor is not to relativize the embeddedness and situatedness of knowledges about sexualities, but to recognize and disrupt the existing invisible borders that obstruct the free dissemination of ideas as they are being determined by various hegemonic forces – political, educational, economic - in both Eastern and Western contexts of doing academic and artistic work related with our desires, bodies, and sexualities.
In its first and founding activity in Summer 2012, The School was thematically focused on the topic “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.
Departing from such a research framework, the School aims towards re-visioning the dominant forms of queer political struggles and strategies of resistance and tries 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.
During the course of the previous two years, the Summer School has offered lectures given by some of the most prominent scholars in the field of sexuality, gender, culture and politics, in the region and worldwide, including David M. Halperin, Marina Gržinić, Jelisaveta Blagojević, Jamie Heckert, Michael O’Rourke, Antke Engel, and Tomasz Sikora.
Starting from 2014, the Summer School is to be relocated in Belgrade, Serbia and is integrated as a core activity of IPAK - Research Center for Cultures, Politics and Identities.