Politics of Visibility and Belonging : From Russia´s “Homosexual Propaganda” Laws to the Ukraine War book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9781138036819
Published July 13, 2017 by Routledge
218 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


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 war

War, (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

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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