Irina is a historian of early modern and Soviet Russia with a particular interest in social history and history of sexuality. In her book manuscript, Vernacular Queer and Shifting Power in Russia: from the Late Imperial Era up to the 1940s, she explores homosexual emancipation in Russia before and after the Revolution of 1917. The focus on emancipation is a novel approach in the historiography of homosexuality in Russia, which so far has concentrated on scientific discourses, experts' knowledge, and the history of prosecution of homosexuals. Based on previously unknown archival evidence, she analyzes the consequences of the spread of literacy, medical knowledge, and law changes in the context of the evolution of same-sex desire. Looking at the process from the perspective of non-elite homosexuals, Irina reveals how their same-sex desire was developed, conceptualized, and expressed after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The sources Irina discovered on queer emancipation “from below” served as the plot for the chamber opera DIE EINFACHEN, staged in Stuttgart and premiered in August 2021 (coverage appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). She has published extensively on the history of homosexuality in Russia in the edited volumes and peer-review journals, including Ab Imperio and Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. Irina is also interested in such topic as intimacy in GULAG, HIV/AIDS in the USSR. Apart from working in the archives and writing, she enjoys watching European football, listening to opera and playing violin.