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Research in Focus #5 | “Feminine Happiness”: Sexuality and Disability in Kyrgyzstan

Happiness and its pursuit have become the new normative regime, a teleological end-all of human existence in a neo-liberal society. The various critics of this condition have pointed out that the ideology of personal happiness and the “happiness industry” it has generated are utilised by capitalist regimes to appease individuals with the condition of the ever-growing social wretchedness.

Women with disabilities, non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming individuals, the childfree and infertile, the asexual, the depressed, the disabled cannot be included in this model of happiness, which implies productivity and ability/willingness to reproduce as the main measures of one’s human worth. In this talk I will discuss my research on happiness, sexuality and disability in Kyrgyzstan. We will examine the concept of “feminine happiness” and the attending assumptions of compulsory heterosexuality and compulsory able-bodiedness in the construction of gender and sexual stories that disabled people in Kyrgyzstan live by.

After the lecture, Mohira Suyarkulova will engage in conversation with Rahil Roodsaz.


Mohira Suyarkulova is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the American University of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a self-confessed ‘undisciplined’ scholar – trained in international relations – who has worked across disciplines, on the intersection of academic research, activism and artistic practice in the past few years. She recently co-authored together with her colleagues and comrades Georgy Mamedov and Nina Bagdasarova the Book on happiness for young (and not so) LGBT (but not only) people.

Rahil Roodsaz is Assistant Professor in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam and holds a NWO-Veni grant entitled “The Paradox of Romantic Love: Negotiating Autonomy and Commitment in Intimate Relationships in the Netherlands. ”

Julie McBrien (moderator) is Associate Professor of Anthropology, director of the AISSR research program group “Exploring Diversity: Critical Ethnographies of Belonging and Exclusion” and Vice Director of the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality.


Online. Registration required.