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Challenge 1:

Protecting democracy

Democratic regimes are under increasing pressure in and beyond Europe. The rise of populist movements and extreme-right parties, some of which speak from within democratically elected platforms, pose significant challenges that can be observed in the chosen countries. Gender and sexual equality are at the core of anti-democratic attacks. Therefore, to protect democracy we need to learn from and with gender studies and LGBTI+ scholarship, and to use queer citizenship as a measure unit to assess the quality of current democracies.

Challenge 2:

Reframing citizenship

TRACE is structured around the idea that citizenship is crossed by political and conceptual tensions, and is processual and dependent on moments of transgression and reframing. Recognizing the frailty of any citizenship regime, subject to progress and backlash in the space of one single life-time – as older LGBTI+ adults bear witness – poses significant challenges to the idea of citizenship as a shared and consolidated project. Considering the historically heterocisnormative underpinnings of citizenship (Richardson, 2017), TRACE explores the potentialities of queer as a lens through which citizenship can be reframed. Moreover, by using a multiscale, life course approach TRACE encourages intersectional conversations with multiple layers of LGBTI+ belonging that affect the experience of citizenship (e.g. migration; religion; precariousness).

Challenge 3:

Revaluing experience

TRACE is mindful of knowledge gaps and invested in avoiding the waste of experience. There is an absence of knowledge produced about – and from – the European contexts involved in this study. Likewise, there is a deficit in scholarship produced about – and with – people in later stages of life. Integrating both levels of expertise – the context-based knowledge stemming from socio-political analysis and the individual-based knowledge based on biographical narrative accounts – will better inform our understanding of current and past challenges to democracy and citizenship.