Negotiating ‘Serbia’ and ‘Europe’ amidst the politics of nationalism and Europeanization: an exploration of identity contestation and utilization within the LGBT movement in Serbia
Europe has recently seen the rise of nationalist, populist, and anti-gender movements. These movements, while diverse, are similar in their exclusionary visions which seek to define the proper national citizen. At the same time that these movements are attacking sexual and gender minorities, certain European governments and institutions increasingly champion LGBT and other human rights as a fundamental European value. By centering LGBT rights in both intra-Union and accession politics, the EU actively strengthens the imagined association between LGBT rights and Europe. These dynamics place LGBT activists on the European semi-periphery in a complex “in-between” state of being excluded from national citizenship while being expected to align with Europe. Given these factors, this research asks how national and European identities are contested and instrumentalized within the LGBT movement in Serbia. Relying on in-depth interviews with activists in the LGBT movement, this study uses a generic inductive analytical approach which allows for flexibility in the emergence of relevant themes and categories. The study found identity contestation to be a complicated process of public and private negotiation, while also finding that dominant Anglo-American identity models do not fully account for the unique historical and political circumstances of the Western Balkans.