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Sexology during the Cold War

La sexologie à l'heure de la Guerre Froide

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Published on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Anastasia Giardinelli

Summary

Sexology should be understood in the broad sense as the production of knowledge with a scientific claim about human sexuality. It has always been plural, both in terms of disciplines and politics. Its historiography remains very uneven, both in time (the scientia sexualis, in Foucault’s term, of the late nineteenth century having drawn a lot of attention) and in space (Germany, Austria, France and the UK are the countries that have been studied most closely). The present call for articles welcomes proposals that seek to explore the evolution of sexology during the Cold War.

Announcement

Presentation

The historiography of the Cold War is as old and rich as the Cold War itself. At first it was a history ‘from above’, in which states and foreign, military, diplomatic and intelligence policies held the leading role. It set out to explore the origins and responsibilities, the tense moments and hot spots in both the North and South. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, a large number of archives have become accessible, especially in the East, but also in the West with the declassification of CIA documents, giving new momentum to research and the pursuit of hypotheses.1

The studies have been broadened to take in social and cultural history and to explore, in a range of areas, the culture of the Cold War: propaganda spread by radio or in the written press, the hardening of the media, the popular imagination and rhetoric, the regimentation of sciences, and mass enrolment in the antagonistic movements of peace and culture.2 Historians have also initiated a history ‘from below’ to observe the ‘Cold War in the village’.3

Many works in the history of women, gender and sexualities have also put forward a new reading of the Cold War. On a global and transnational scale, women’s organizations have been the focus of attention4, while others have looked into the gender representations (feminine or masculine) that were mobilized on either side by nationalist or internationalist policies5; others still have exposed the repression of gays in relation to the Cold War, in particular in the United States and in Canada.6

Regardless of their field (history of sciences, of gender or of sexualities), recent research has emphasized the various forms of exchanges and circulations across the Iron Curtain7, nuance the image of the two homogeneous blocs, instead highlighting the varieties of national or local contexts, inside both the Atlanticist camp and the Soviet camp, and encouraging a rebalancing of the historiography that bears especially on the United States and to a lesser extent on Western Europe and a lot less on the USSR and Eastern Europe. Lastly, recent research questions the historical continuities upstream of and during the Cold War.

1 For an overview of the renewals of historiography of the Cold War, see: Melvyn P. Leffler, ‘The Cold War: What Do “We Now Know”?’, The American Historical Review, Vol. 104, No. 2 (Apr., 1999), pp. 501-524; and Pierre Grosser, ‘Écrire l’histoire de la guerre froide après la fin de la guerre froide, quelques éléments de réflexion et de bilan bibliographique’, Communisme, no. 80-81-82, 2004, pp. 43-75.

2 For an analysis of this cultural turn, see: Gordon Johnston, ‘Revisiting the Cultural Cold War’, Social History, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Aug. 2010), pp. 290-307.

3 See: Philippe Buton, Olivier Büttner and Michel Hastings, ‘La Guerre froide vue d’en bas’, in: Philippe Buton, Olivier Büttner and Michel Hastings (eds), Nouveaux regards sur la Guerre froide, CNRS éditions, 2014, pp. 7-18.

4 Francisca de Haan, ‘Continuing Cold War Paradigms in the Western Historiography of Transnational Women’s Organisations: The Case of the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF)’, Women’s History Review 19, no. 4 (Sept. 2010): pp. 547-573. Karen Garner, ‘Global Feminism and Cold War Paradigms: Women's International NGOs and the United Nations, 1970-1985’ in: P. E. Muehlenbeck, Gender, Sexuality, and the Cold War: A Global Perspective. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2017, pp. 224-248.

5 See Robert L. Griswold, ‘“Russian Blonde in Space”: Soviet Women in the American Imagination, 1950-1965’, Journal of Social History, no. 4 (2012): 801-907; Susan E. Reid, ‘Cold War in the Kitchen: Gender and the De-Stalinization of Consumer Taste in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev’, Slavic Review, Vol. 61, No. 2. (Summer, 2002), pp. 211-252.

  1. Cuordileone, Manhood and American Political Culture in the Cold War, New York: Routledge, 2005; Robert D. Dean, Imperial Brotherhood: Gender and the Making of Cold War Foreign Policy, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002; 6 See David Kenneth Johnson, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004, and Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile (eds.), The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation, University of British Columbia Press, 2009.

7 For a recent perspective on the permeability of the Iron Curtain in the human sciences, see: Ivan Boldyrev, Olessia Kirtchik, ‘On (Im)Permeabilities. Social and human sciences on both sides of the “Iron Curtain”’, History of the Human Sciences, Vol 29, Issue 4-5, 2016.

This issue of the review Sextant seeks to pursue these questions as regards the history of sexology during the Cold War. Sexology should be understood in the broad sense as the production of knowledge with a scientific claim about human sexuality. It has always been plural, both in terms of disciplines and politics. Its historiography remains very uneven, both in time (the scientia sexualis, in Foucault’s term, of the late nineteenth century having drawn a lot of attention) and in space (Germany, Austria, France and the UK are the countries that have been studied most closely). The present call for articles invites researchers to answer the following questions, among others:

  • In what way did the policies and, more broadly, the context of the Cold War, have an impact, both globally and locally, on sexology?
  • What differences and similarities exist between the forms taken by sexology in both camps of the Cold War?
  • How and in what form did transfers and circulations take place, both within the West (in particular between the US and Western Europe) and within the East (in particular between the USSR and Eastern Europe)?
  • Did exchanges and borrowings take place between the East and the West across the Iron Curtain? What sexological ‘models’ circulated and competed against one another along the East-West and North-South axes?
  • Do similarities exist between the fin-de-siècle psychopathology or the sexual reform movements of the interwar period and the age of the Cold War?
  • Do similarities exist between the sexology of authoritarian or totalitarian regimes and those of the Cold War years?
  • How and why was sexology used by international organizations (WHO, Unesco) that took part in redesigning the world order in the wake of the Second World War?
  • What scientific, political and ideological questions (including religious ones) mobilized men and women who declared themselves to be sexologists during the Cold War?

Lastly, and more generally, the present call for articles welcomes proposals that seek to explore the evolution of sexology during the Cold War.

Submission Guidelines

Article submissions (max. 300 words) and a short biography (brief CV and description of research topics, max. 5 lines), in French or English, must be submitted by 30 May 2018 at the latest to the following addresses: sylvie.chaperon@free.fr, carla.nagels@ulb.ac.be and cecile.vanderpelen@ulb.ac.be. The complete texts will comprise between 30,000 and 40,000 characters (including spaces) and will have to be submitted by December June 2018.

Calendar

  • 30 May 2018: deadline for answers

  • 1 July 2018: feedback on proposals
  • 1 December 2018: submission of articles
  • November 2019: publication

Editors of this issue

Sylvie Chaperon (Université Toulouse-le Mirail), Carla Nagels (Université libre de Bruxelles) and Cécile Vanderpelen-Diagre (Université libre de Bruxelles)

Editors of Sextant

Cécile Vanderpelen-Diagre (Université libre de Bruxelles) and Amandine Lauro (Université libre de Bruxelles)

Editorial Board

Muriel Andrin (Université libre de Bruxelles), Jean-Didier Bergilez (Université libre de Bruxelles), Mylène Botbol-Baum (Université catholique de Louvain), Annalisa Casini (Université catholique de Louvain), Natacha Chetcuti-Osorovitz (Université libre de Bruxelles), Nicole Gallus (Université libre de Bruxelles), Claire Gavray (Université de Liège), Nathalie Grandjean (Université de Namur), Stéphanie Loriaux (Université libre de Bruxelles), Bérengère Marques-Pereira (Université libre de Bruxelles), Danièle Meulders (Université libre de Bruxelles), Nouria Ouali (Université libre de Bruxelles), David Paternotte (Université libre de Bruxelles), Charlotte Pezeril (Université Saint-Louis), Valérie Piette (Université libre de Bruxelles)

About Sextant

Founded in 1993 on the initiative of the Belgian historian Éliane Gubin, Sextant was the first academic review devoted to women’s and gender studies in Belgium. Multidisciplinary, for a long time it was directly attached to the GIEF (Groupe interdisciplinaire d’Études sur les Femmes: Interdisciplinary Group of Women’s Studies) at Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Today it focuses on gender and sexuality issues and is led by an interdisciplinary group of lecturers from ULB.

Subjects

Places

  • Revue Sextant
    Brussels, Belgium

Date(s)

  • Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Keywords

  • Sexologie, Guerre froide, Europe

Contact(s)

  • Sylvie Chaperon
    courriel : sylvie [dot] chaperon [at] free [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Sylvie Chaperon
    courriel : sylvie [dot] chaperon [at] free [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Sexology during the Cold War », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, https://calenda.org/443824

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