UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


David Rypel

David Rypel

Supervisors: Prof Richard Mole and Dr Aglaya Snetkov

Email: david.rypel.20@ucl.ac.uk

Present Status: PhD Candidate

Working title of thesis: Politics of Belonging and Security among Queer Georgians

Research: My ethnographic research asks what is involved in living a “secure life” as a queer person in Georgia (Sakartvelo). It might be tempting to focus on cases of queerphobic violence that periodically flare up in the country, but any attempt to answer this question must start by taking a step back to ask what a secure life (or security) is in the first place. This, however, is not for us to decide: we need to go out and ask people what matters to them. As I have learned during my research, the idea of a secure life evokes different things in different people: not just physical safety, but material/financial stability, trust in relationships, or autonomy, too, to name a few.

The question that follows is: what do people do to make their lives more secure in these terms? Queer people are not mere passive victims – no one is – and I am particularly interested in their ways of negotiating reality so that it gets closer to the desired outcome, a more liveable life. This is not always easy: when things go well, “versions” of a secure life overlap and build upon each other, but at other times they clash and contradict one another (e.g. when one is forced to choose between preserving their autonomy or financial stability). This is true not only on the level of an individual life but also in the case of queer collectivity as such: for instance, visibility politics strive to make everyone’s life more secure in the long term, but some people end up facing the ensuing violent backlash.

My research aims to provide local stakeholders with useful data, contribute to queer studies from a non-Western locality, expand our imagination of what security may be about, and (re-)examine how the politics of belonging are (or are not) implicated in the enactment of various versions of security.

Research interests: (everyday) security, violence, belonging, marginalisation, Georgia (Sakartvelo), gender and sexuality, social epistemology

Teaching Experience:

  • BASC0002: Interdisciplinary Research Methods (23/24)
  • Academic Communication Centre – Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (Writing Lab)
  • SESS0082: Introduction to International Relations: Concepts and Ideas (22/23)
  • SESS0083: Introduction to International Relations: Themes and Issues (21/22)

In the academic year of 2023/2024, I am also the UCL SSEES PhD representative and convenor of the SSEES Research Student Seminar Series.

I gratefully acknowledge the financial support from SSEES and the Frederick Bonnart-Braunthal Trust that I received between 2020 and 2023.