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What's Queer about Europe?Productive Encounters and Re-enchanting Paradigms$
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Mireille Rosello and Sudeep Dasgupta

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823255351

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823255351.001.0001

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A Case of Mistaken Identity

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Female Russian Social Revolutionaries in Early-Twentieth-Century Switzerland

Chapter:
(p.48) A Case of Mistaken Identity
Source:
What's Queer about Europe?
Author(s):

Dominique Grisard

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823255351.003.0003

Going back to Russian women’s involvement in radical anarchist circles in late 19th and early 20th century Europe, the chapter asks about their impact on Swiss politics and everyday life. At the time the masculine self-stylizing of Russian anarchist women questioned European notions of gender and sexuality . Focusing on the case of Tatiana Leontieva, an unassuming Russian medical student turned assassin, the chapter argues that Leontieva’s undercover ‘drag’ performance and decidedly feminine self-presentation managed to ‘queer’ bourgeois identity and identification politics in subtle and more obvious ways. The unsettling effect female Russian anarchists had on European notions of gender, sexuality and identity contributed to a symbolic and political “fortification” of Europe against Russia. Looking back at the interventions of queer Russian anarchists in early twentieth-century Western Europe enables us to historically rethink the meaning of European border policing now, in a post-9/11 security era.

Keywords:   Russian anarchists, Switzerland, Leontieva, Tatiana, Female masculinity, Fortress Europe

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