Home    Number 3, 2023

Embodiment in Biographical Narratives of Non-Heterosexuals

[Telesnost’ v biograficheskikh narrativakh negeteroseksual’nykh liudei]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523030119


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 22.09.2022

Accepted: 06.04.2023

About author(s)

Polina Kislitsyna | https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1795-0259 | pkislitsyna@eu.spb.ru | independent researcher (St. Petersburg, Russia)


gender, body, embodiment, homosexuality, bisexuality, sexuality, sexual identity, biographical narrative, narrative strategies


The article examines the ways in which embodiment is narrativized in biographical stories of non-heterosexual people based on interview and written autobiographies. When talking about their experiences, non-heterosexuals searched for signs in their bodies and endowed them with dimensions of meaning. To conceptualize this search procedure, I use Ginzburg’s evidence paradigm and Csordas’s somatic modes of attention. The participants interpreted clues found in the body experience of the past as proof of one’s non-heterosexuality. The search for such evidence requires a specific mode of attention to one’s body and knowledge about (homo)sexuality. The article analyzes the language of description of the body, such as figures of speech and terms used by the participants, and traces gender differences in strategies for narrativizing the body. Essentialization is the most popular strategy of narrativization of non-heterosexual body. The participants talked about their sexuality in terms of “naturalness” and “innateness”. Different levels of texts reflect this tendency. Essentialization is a way to normalize non-heterosexuality, permeate sexual identity, and make narratives coherent.


Kislitsyna, P.A. 2023. Telesnost’ v biograficheskikh narrativakh negeteroseksual’nykh liudei [Embodiment in Biographical Narratives of Non-Heterosexuals]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 206–225. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523030119 EDN: CPSWWN

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