BETWEEN SURVEILLANCE AND NON-INTERFERENCE OF STATE AUTHORITIES: THE PRACTICES OF SAME-SEX SEXUAL SUBCULTURES IN SOVIET LATVIA, 1954–1991

Project No.: lzp-2021/1-0167
Implementation period: 3 January 2022 – 30 December 2024
Project costs: EUR 299 999.70
Principal investigator:  Dr. hist. Ineta Lipša
 
The goal of the project is to create new knowledge about the history of sexuality and social control by bringing into focus same-sex sexual subcultures and examining practices elaborated by same-sex loving people responding to surveillance activities of state authorities in Soviet Latvia from post-Stalinism through the late Soviet socialism (1954–1991).

The study will be based on a comparative study of several groups of historical sources:

  1. on the documents of the National Archives of Latvia – the judgments and criminal files of the people’s courts,
  2. on Ego documents – a diary written by a homosexual Latvian man from 1927 to 1996,
  3. on oral history sources – in-depth interviews with same-sex loving people and non-homosexual individuals created by the project team with the oral history methodology.

The objectives of the research project are

  1. researching the interaction between the practices of state authorities in the monitoring of same-sex loving men and the subcultures juxtaposing the data obtained from court judgments and a diary and interviews;
  2. examining the practices of female same-sex subcultures;
  3. analysing the knowledge and perceptions of non-homosexual contemporaries on the practices of state authorities and same-sex sexual subcultures.

We expect:

  1. to (re)construct the experiences of the insiders,
  2. to create the first collection of oral history sources in Latvia with a focus on homosexual experiences,
  3. to contribute to a more balanced and inclusive Latvian history and to the global narrative of history of Soviet same-sex subcultures adding the Latvian case to the debates.

Project team: Dr. hist. Ineta Lipša, Dr. hist. Kaspars Zellis, Dr. phil. Kārlis Vērdiņš, Doctoral student Elizabete Vizgunova-Vikmane and Master’s student Signe Šēnfelde.