What role did gender and sexual ideologies play in the transition between the old tsarist regime and the Bolshevik program of modernization? Demolishing religious traditions prompted reconstruction of gender laws and manifestation of sexual freedom, including decriminalization of homosexuality, in a new Soviet socialist state. Construction of a new socialist modernity, including emancipation of women, however, excluded a wide range of same-sex practices and behavior in Russia’s former imperial borderlands like Central Asia. The goal of the Bolshevik campaign of massive unveiling of the 1920s, known as hujum, was part of a widespread “assault” against the “moldy old ways” of female seclusion and inequality (Northrop 2004). The campaign coincided with constraining sexual ambivalence in the region, including prohibiting male same-sex practices. The Soviet Uzbek Criminal Code of 1926, for instance, contained a number of articles prohibiting male same-sex relations.
Feruza Aripova is a PhD Candidate in World History at Northeastern University and a Center Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. Currently, Feruza is a Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. Her research primarily focuses on gender and sexual politics in late Soviet era. She is currently working on completing her dissertation, tentatively titled "Silencing of Same-Sex Desire in the Post-Soviet Space: Deconstructing the Soviet Legacy."
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