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Elle Dibrova imagePhD candidate

Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts (Sociology) (distinction), Postgraduate Diploma in International Communication, Master of Philology (distinction)


Thesis topic: You don’t belong here: othering of LGBT+ people as a part of hegemonic national identity in contemporary Russia
Supervisors: Associate Professor James Headley, Associate Professor Melanie Beres and Associate Professor Vicki Spencer

In my research, I am examining the othering of LGBT+ people in Russia as part of the hegemonic national identity that has been constructed by Putin's political regime since the mid-2000s with the help of various heteronormative state policies. These policies have been essential for the top-down formulation of national belonging along the sexual lines. I am using the concept of sexual citizenship to analyse the traditional values ideology that under Putin's regime has become the crucial manifestation of hegemonic national identity, formulating it in strict heteronormative terms.

The empirical part of the research aims to understand how LGBT+ individuals in Russia perceive and experience the link between hegemonic heteronormative national identity and their access to rights. The study is being conducted using the method of partial collaborative autoethnography that allows obtaining first-hand reflections of daily and past experiences of LGBT+ people (those living in or who have left Russia) that can illuminate their personal views, meanings, and understandings. I recruited 29 participants/co-researchers (including myself) who, over six months, had been regularly writing solicited reflective diaries related to their experiences. The diaries amount to roughly 200,000 words. Currently, I am processing them and conducting data analysis.

The method of partial collaborative autoethnography is committed to social justice, and it is hoped that it will help disrupt postulated knowledge that oppresses and marginalises the group. This study will fill in a significant research gap since the amount of existing research in this area is limited.