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Our goal is to discuss the sexual orders of the socialist states of East-Central and Southeast Europe from a broader perspective. While top-down processes are relatively well researched, the horizontal negotiation, control, and enforcement of norms has hitherto not been the focus of much scholarly attention. The interaction between these two axes has only been examined sporadically as well. We are therefore particularly interested in forms of monitoring sexuality that occurred below the governmental level.
The conference targets firstly the institutions, professions, and individuals who implemented or were tasked with implementing sexual policies – by way of education and information, monitoring, and/or corrective action. Beyond experts and persons acting on behalf of the state, we are explicitly interested in informal vigilance in the area of sexual behaviour occurring in the immediate social surroundings of citizens of the respective socialist countries.
Our second area of concern are the churches as institutions the socialist regimes wanted to eliminate as conveyors of values.
Thirdly, we wish to investigate and discuss the regimes of observation and disciplining applied to persons whose behaviour did not conform to the dominant sexual norms. Who and what was policed, tabooed, discriminated, or characterized as a threat to socialist society?
Our fourth focus is to examine the representation of sexuality in terms of how the boundaries of what could be said and depicted in the areas of sexuality, eroticism, and corporality changed over the years.
The conference aims to explore the regimes of East-Central and Southeast Europe as a field in which – even under the conditions of authoritarian rule – key rules of human coexistence were continuously negotiated and “made”. The underlying scholarly interest is the question of the connection between vigilance in the area of sexuality and the cohesion of socialist societies.
Concept: Dr. Christiane Brenner, Prof. Dr. Martin Schulze Wessel, Collegium Carolinum / CRC 1369 “Cultures of Vigilance” at LMU Munich