9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

Paper One: BIGS Panel

This paper reconsiders points of intersection between the genealogies of homophobia and racism. It will focus on the formation of three disciplines invested in the identification of human "types" "sexology, psychoanalysis and anthropology" examining a series of cross-disciplinary encounters between key thinkers from the different fields during the first part of the twentieth-century. We know a great deal about the individual histories of each discipline: the emergence of anthropology from post-Enlightenment philosophy and natural science, the establishment of sexology out of the criminological, medical and legal sciences of the nineteenth-century, the turn-of-the-century foundation of psychoanalysis around the work of Sigmund Freud. The paper examines a series of cross-disciplinary engagements in the writings Freud, anthropologist Malinowski and sexologists Hirschfeld, arguing that they provide fresh insights into the prevalence of racist and homophobic ideas within the formation of the disciplines. For instance, Malinowski in his Sex and Repression in Savage Society (1927), which is a critique of Freud's Totem and Taboo (1913) held on to the idea of "savagery" and a distinct "primitive" sexuality to stake a claim for the methods of anthropology. Freud´s references to his sexological colleagues (especially Hirschfeld) in his correspondence with C.G. Jung in turn indicate the extent to which Freud was steeped within contemporary homophobic thinking, as he sought to discredit Hirschfeld by suggesting that Hrischfeld's homosexuality rendered him prone to mental and physical instability. Hirschfeld himself was one of the first to try and lay bare the problematic overlaps between racial and sexual sciences in his Racism (1938), a posthumously-published work that retraced the histories of sexual and racial stereotyping in a warning against the rise of Nazism. By considering alongside each other the occasionally overtly intersecting issues of racism and homophobia, the paper does not argue that they shared one genealogy. However, informed by recent queer and postcolonial scholarship on issues of normativity and temporality, the paper aims to rethink the meanings and politics of the historic binds between the two discourses, and their theoretical legacies.