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Conor O’Dwyer | Coming Out of Communism: The Emergence of LGBT Activism in Eastern Europe

March 25, 2021

Conor O’Dwyer presents his book talk “Coming Out of Communism: The Emergence of LGBT Activism in Eastern Europe” on Nov. 8, 2019 at the University of Washington, Seattle.

This book talk is a part of the Ellison Center’s “1989 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall” lecture series.

While LGBT activism has increased worldwide, there has been strong backlash against LGBT people
 in Eastern Europe. Although Russia is the most prominent anti-gay regime in the region, LGBT individuals in other post-communist countries also suffer from discriminatory laws and prejudiced social institutions. Combining an historical overview with interviews and case studies in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, Conor O’Dwyer analyzes the development and impact of LGBT movements in post-communist Eastern and Central Europe. He argues that backlash against LGBT individuals has had the paradoxical effect of encouraging stronger and more organized activism, significantly impacting the social movement landscape in the region. As Eastern and Central European countries vie for inclusion or at least recognition in the increasingly LGBT-friendly European Union, activist groups and organizations have become even more emboldened to push for change. Using fieldwork in five countries, O’Dwyer explores the intricacies of these LGBT social movements and their structures, functions, and impact while also considering their ability to serve as models for future movements attempting to resist backlash.

Conor O’Dwyer (Ph.D., UC Berkeley, 2003) is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida. He specializes in comparative politics, with a thematic focus on LGBT politics, social movements, democratization, and the state and a regional emphasis on East Central Europe and the European Union. He is the author of Coming Out of Communism: The Emergence of LGBT Activism in Eastern Europe (New York University Press, 2018) and Runaway State-Building: Patronage Politics and Democratic Development (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006). In addition to his time at the University of Florida, he has been an Academy Scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Baltic and East European Studies at Södertörn University in Sweden.

This lecture is sponsored by the Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle.