1st Edition

Politics of Visibility and Belonging From Russia´s “Homosexual Propaganda” Laws to the Ukraine War

By Emil Edenborg Copyright 2017
    220 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    218 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In this book, Edenborg studies contemporary conflicts of community as enacted in Russian media, from the ‘homosexual propaganda’ laws to the Sochi Olympics and the Ukraine war, and explores the role of visibility in the production and contestation of belonging to a political community.

    The book examines what it is that determines which subjects and narratives become visible and which are occluded in public spheres; how they are seen and made intelligible; and how those processes are involved in the imagination of communities. Investigating the differentiated consequences of visibility, Edenborg discusses what forms of visibility make belonging possible and what forms of visibility may be related to exclusion or violence. The book maps and analyses the practices and mechanisms whereby a state seeks to produce and shape belonging through controlling what becomes visible in public, and how that which becomes visible is seen and understood. In addition, it examines what forms contestation can take and what its effects may be.

    Advancing theoretical understanding and offering a useful way to analytically conceptualize the role of visibility in the production and contestation of political communities, this work will be of interest to students and scholars of gender and sexuality politics, borders, citizenship, nationalism, migration and ethnic relations.


    Tverskaya Ulitsa, Moscow, May 2006

    Projects of belonging in contemporary Russia

    1: Politics of belonging: from speech to visibility

    Politics of belonging: the issues at stake

    Politics of belonging as speech: (counter)narratives and (counter)publics

    Politics of belonging as visibility contestations

    2: Russian media as a space of appearance

    A historical overview of media in Russia

    Containing, amplifying and contesting visibility in Russia

    Revisiting the audience(s)


    3: "Homosexual propaganda": regulating queer visibility

    Queer visibility, belonging and geopolitics

    Regulating queerness in Russian history

    The dominant interpretation of the propaganda law

    Tensions in the narrative


    4: Sochi: the nation on display

    Politics of belonging and the spectacular

    Contexts and controversies around the Sochi Games

    Sochi-2014 as a project of belonging

    Contesting the Sochi spectacle


    5: Ukraine: spectacles and specters of warWar, (in)visibility and belonging

    Part one: satire and violent cartographies

    Part two: spectacular and spectral homecomings


    Conclusion: nothing more to see?

    The limits of speech

    Arrangements of visibility and the production of belonging

    Visibility, invisibility and resistance

    Russian politics, belonging and visibility

    Seeing ahead


    Emil Edenborg is Postdoctoral Researcher at Södertörn University, Sweden.


    This is an important book in which the role of visibility in general and the media as its facilitator in particular is added to the theorization of political projects of belonging. It focuses on fascinating contesting case studies from the Russian media but is of generic theoretical and political importance as well.

    - Professor Nira Yuval-Davis, Director of the research centre on Migration, Refugees and Belonging, University of East London

    This book offers an interesting account of why and how the Kremlin tolerates disparate voices and alternative media, while retaining the commanding heights of media capacity. It shows how a populist-authoritarian regime exploits contradictory and illogical media narratives to frame particular emotional responses. It suggests how and why opponents of the Kremlin struggle to achieve effective traction in the public sphere.

    - Dan Healey, University of Oxford, Salvic Review

    This book is a monumental research effort. The attention to Russian sources of various kinds and technical knowledge (regarding pathogens, life sciences, military applications, and the Russian bureaucratic process) is remarkable.

    - Lisa A. Balionee, Saint Joseph's University