UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Places of Tenderness and Heat: The Queer Milieu of Fin-de-Siècle St. Petersburg

14 March 2022, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

The Queer Milieu

A SSEES Russian Studies seminar with Dr Olga Petri, Cambridge University

This event is free.

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In this talk, Olga Petri invites you to join her on a narrated tour of late imperial St. Petersburg and its male queer milieu. In dredging and contextualizing the archival stories of certain queer spaces, she will describe otherwise obscure features of urban modernity that – often unintentionally – facilitated queer encounters. Olga Petri will take us through shopping arcades, bathhouses, and public urinals to show how queer men routinely met, socialized, and navigate a city full of risk and opportunity. The emphasis of this talk is as much on the routine behaviors or queer men ranging from informal socialization to outright sexual transgression, as it is about the efforts of constables, administrators, government officials and sanitary inspectors to maintain moral order. By changing the question from one about the tsarist regime’s failures and techniques of repression vis-à-vis detected breaches of law to one concerning a range of formal and informal practices of spatial governance, Petri describes a surprisingly stable entente between illicit communion and municipal authorities’ paternalistic ambitions.

Please note that this event will now take place fully online

Image credit: TsGAKFD Spb, Г18514, Konka na Nevskom Prospekte, unknown author, 1906 – 1907. Courtesy of TsGAKFD SPb. (TsGAKFD SPb = Tsentral’nyî Gosudarstvennyî Archiv Kinofotodocumentov Sankt-Petersburga [Central State Archive of Documentary Films, Photographs, and Sound Recordings of St. Petersburg].)