The science of sex in a space of uncertainty: naturalizing and modernizing Europe's east, past and present 
Agnieszka Koscianska (University of Warsaw)
Hadley Renkin (Central European University)
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Friday 13 July, 11:30-13:15 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

This workshop focuses on ethnographic, historical and sociological analyses of the role of science in processes of the naturalization and modernization of sexuality, as well as the defining of modernity in relation to sexuality in Eastern Europe (broadly defined) from the past to the present.

Long Abstract

Since the beginning of the 20th century Eastern Europe has experienced enormous social, political, and economic change. In this context, sexuality has played a critical role in the constitution of modernity and its others, and in the creation of spaces of both power and resistance.

Researchers have analyzed gender issues in the region extensively. Study of sexualities, however, remains undeveloped. This workshop will explore how diverse scientific discourses and practices surrounding sexuality (e.g. sexology, medicine, psychology, psychiatry, ethnography/ethnology, law, criminology) have, from past to present, made Eastern Europe a particular site for understanding sexuality, and sexuality a particular site for understanding Eastern Europe. We draw special attention to how, in different historical-political moments, these sciences have naturalized sexual acts, desires, identities, and communities, as well as distinctions between modern and non-modern, thus legitimizing new visions of political bodies, social relations, and moral-political geographies.

We seek papers from ethnographic, historical, and sociological perspectives focusing on the following questions:

In what ways have sexual sciences in and about Eastern Europe constituted certain sexual acts, identities, and communities as natural, in relation to particular political regimes? What have been the changing relations between forms of sexual knowledge and resistance in the region? How have sexual sciences contributed to shifting definitions of gender and pleasure/pain? How have understandings of sexuality served to demarcate borders between east and west, and past and present?

Accepted papers: