UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Representation of Gender Minority Groups In Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro

03 September 2015–04 September 2015, 1:00 pm–4:00 pm

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UCL, SSEES, 432 (Fourth Floor)


The research for this project is situated within the interdisciplinary context of media and gender studies with a particular focus on social and cultural practices of exclusion/inclusion of gender minority groups in the Western Balkans.

We conceive of the media as a radically potent discursive practice, deeply rooted in the decentralized and multifaceted network of power relations within the boundaries of the social and political body. The discourse of the media gains its power most paradigmatically through continuous interaction with other social discourses with which it organizes a stratified and relatively hierarchized field of mutual intersections and supporting points. Thus specific attention within the research is directed to the policy discourse on gender minority groups dealing with media freedom, hate speech, human rights, and discrimination. The term “gender minority groups” (further in the text GMG) in our research refers not only to LGBT population but also to doubly marginalized and therefore especially vulnerable GMG such as Roma lesbian women, LGBT disabled population, impoverished transsexuals etc.

Both in Southeast Europe and the Western Balkans the most frequently conducted research on GMG deals with public opinion on GMG and their rights (Takas; Kuhar&Takas). Research in the Western Balkans is mostly conducted within the NGO sector (Juventas, CEMI, Anima, LGBT Forum progres in Montenegro; Coalition SHRMC, in Macedonia; Labris, Ažin, E8, Gay alijansa in Serbia) or by international organizations (European Commission reports, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights), while very few serious academic studies dealing with the issue of media representations of GMG have been conducted in the region (Dimitrov&Kolozova). Existing research points out that discursive production deploys several main strategies, including: hyper-sexualization of non-heterosexuality, masculinization and westernization of GMG, othering GMG as a part of the process of the normalization of heteronormative identities, normalization of non-normative GMG, pathologization of GMG and de-legitimization of GMG activism. Our research adds to this understanding by incorporating a discourse analysis of media representations of gender minority groups. Such an analysis, while dealing with gender stereotypes in the media (Dayer), also deals with those questions of media literacy which have yet to be asked in the Western Balkans – which mechanisms generate gender minority stereotypes and how those stereotypes are perceived in societies with a low level of media literacy. The research confronts media mechanisms and argumentation through which the state apparatus, public institutions and certain interest groups sensitize the public opinion to the discrimination and disregard towards representatives of GMG. We also explore how such practices of social exclusion impact the rights of other minority groups as well as the suspension of civil rights of all citizens in general, and try to indicate which mode of promotion of GMG rights could be the most successful. 

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