Noble Polish Sexuality and the Corrupted European Body


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This article attends to the instrumentalization of gender and sexuality in recent Polish political campaigns. Locating current political debates in a cultural-historical context of long-established hierarchical divides, it conceives of gender and sexuality as ‘empty signifiers’ deployed in political struggles (for hegemony) over notions of civic responsibility, good citizenship and articulations of Europeanness. Similarly, it takes ‘Europeanness’ as an empty signifier, without any essential meaning, arguing that these signifiers are key to understanding recent mobilizations around moral frontiers in Polish politics. Illustrative examples serve to elaborate how LGBT rights and sex education are instrumentalized among self-proclaimed liberals as well as rightwing nationalists, seeking to guarantee the moral integrity of the nation according to an antagonistic logic. On both sides of the political divide, we witness a self-orientalizing positioning towards the European ‘core’, whether phrased in terms of sexual modernity or Christian civilization.

Author Biographies

Randi Gressgård, Prof., University of Bergen

Randi Gressgård is Professor at Centre for Women's and Gender Research and affiliated with the research unit International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER), University of Bergen. Her main research interests are in the fields of gender & sexuality studies; migration & minority studies; and urban studies.

Rafał Smoczy´nski, Prof., Insitute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences

Rafal Smoczynski is Professor of sociology at Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences. His research interest focuses on social control; migration; sociology of religion; social theory; and sociology of markets. His publications are included in e.g. Ethnic and Racial Studies, East European Politics and Societies and Cultures.





How to Cite

Gressgård, R. and Smoczy´nski, R. 2020. Noble Polish Sexuality and the Corrupted European Body. Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics. 6, 3 (Nov. 2020). DOI:



Struggles over Europe: Postcolonial East/West Dynamics of Race, Gender and Sexua