If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, where in the world do you belong? Today, the growing visibility and activism among those whose gender identity or sexual orientation is outside of the culturally accepted norms in Southeast Europe is coinciding with international and European pressures to protect sexual and gender differences as basic human rights. Within this rapidly evolving scene in the Western Balkans (Albania and former Yugoslavia, excepting Slovenia) and Turkey is a changing cross-border migration dynamic. Although these countries are knocking at the door of the European Union, many of their sexual and gender minorities feel the need to emigrate. It is clear that Southeast Europe is no stranger to what Elźbieta Matynia calls the “privatizing public” in today’s world. This work-in-progress paper examines how the “deprivatization” of gender is in process through the intersections of homophobic violence, migration, and democratic consolidation, as part of a larger study of migration and gender-based violence in this region. This story is one in an ongoing drama that passionately animates today’s Europe: the protection of borders and the definition of the (“national”) citizen.

Susan C. Pearce holds an MA and PhD in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in New York City, and joined the faculty of East Carolina University in 2008. She conducts research on the cultural contexts of politics, particularly concerning ethnicity, migration, gender, and social movements in the United States and in European countries undergoing democratic transformations. She is the co-author (with Elizabeth J. Clifford and Reena Tandon) of Immigration and Women: Understanding the American Experience, (New York University Press, 2011), and the co-editor of the anthologies Reformulations: Markets, Policy, and Identities in Central and Eastern Europe (Warsaw, Poland: IFIS Publishers, 2000, with Sławomir Kapralski) and Mosaics of Change: The First Decade of Life in the New Eastern Europe (Budapest, Hungary: Civic Education Project, 2000, with Eugenia Sojka). As a Woodrow Wilson Center scholar in the summer of 2012, she conducted new research on gender-based violence and migration from Southeast Europe. She is also currently completing a book manuscript of the 20th-anniversary commemorations of the 1989 revolutions in East-Central Europe. She has published her research on the collective memory of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the counter-amnesia of the New York African Burial Ground, post-Katrina New Orleans and jazz, and the experiences of intimate partner violence among immigrant women in Baltimore. As an ethnographer, her writings aim to amplify voices from the “bottom-up.” She has served on the sociology faculties of Gettysburg College, West Virginia University, University of Gdańsk (Poland), and Central European University (Poland), and annually teaches a summer orientation course in Istanbul, Turkey for the Open Society Foundations. Her experience in the nonprofit sector included senior management positions with Catalyst for Women and The Democracy Collaborative.