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Lecture | Leiden Queer History Network

Sexual Misfits and State Socialism: Dealing with Male Homosexuality and Male Sexual Deviance in Czechoslovakia

Friday 17 May 2019
Free entry, no registration required. The talk is followed by a reception.
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden
Room 0.11

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Please join us for another Leiden Queer History Network event, this one coinciding with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHO).

Sexual Misfits and State Socialism

On May 17, Dr. Kateřina Lišková will present her research into “sexual misfits and state socialism” in Czechoslovakia. With the recently published histories of sexuality in communist Central and Eastern Europe, it is becoming clear that: first, the ‘Eastern’ histories differ from the well-known narrative of the liberationist 1960s stemming from the Western situation, in which the social movements clamored for sexual freedoms; and second, that sexual and gender developments in the Cold War East differ from country to country, based on the specificities of local political cultures. However, socialist countries shared several structural attributes: the early and universal push for gender equalization and the crucial role of expertise in liberalizing sexual mores. In this context, we might speak about socialist sexual citizenship that bestowed gender equality, granted access to abortion and in some countries decriminalized homosexuality dozen(s) of years before similar freedoms were afforded to the citizens of capitalist West.

In this talk, Lišková will focus on the histories of male sexual non-normativity that in Czechoslovakia took two distinct forms: male homosexuality and male sexual deviance. The former was closely studied already in the 1950s, when sexologists subjected men desiring other men to behaviorist research and treatment only to find out that homosexuality was incurable, which led them to lobby for decriminalization. The latter got into sexological focus much later, from the 1970s on, and these sexually ‘delinquent’ men were incarcerated and treated in sexological wards of psychiatric hospitals. Lišková will contrast these two types of non-normative male sexuality, pointing to the underlying structures that made each (in)visible at a given point in time. Her aim is to bring together sociological accent on structures and expertise with the detailed focus on primary historical sources that will bring out the specificities of socialist sexual liberation.

Kateřina Lišková

Dr. Kateřina Lišková teaches gender studies and sociology at Masaryk University, Czech Republic and works as a Fellow at Technische Universität, Berlin, Germany. In the past, she was affiliated with Columbia University and the New School for Social Research. She is the author of Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style: Communist Czechoslovakia and the Science of Desire, 1945-1989 (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Leiden Queer History Network

Dr. Lišková’s presentation is the second in a series of lectures hosted by the Leiden Queer History Network, a new initiative co-convened by Dr. Andrew Shield (History) and Dr. Ann Marie Wilson (Leiden University College). These have been made possible with financial support from Leiden Global Interactions.

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