This Spring 2021 issue of Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques is about cultural heritages and their transmission, focusing on the period from the middle of the eighteenth century to the present. An important stimulus for the creation of the issue was the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH) in 2018. There were four main themes for the EYCH: protection, engagement, sustainability, and innovation. National coordinators and local organizers of events and initiatives across the continent adopted the unifying slogan “Our Heritage. Where the past meets the future.” The articles brought together here serve as an invitation to readers to continue reflecting on subjects and questions that were at the heart of planning for and supporting public participation in EYCH 2018. The European Year of Cultural Heritage provided myriad opportunities to discover the roles played by individuals and groups in the preservation and valorization of natural sites and landscapes, public monuments, cultural institutions, artifacts, digital resources, and intangible cultural heritage. It highlighted educational initiatives to raise awareness of multiple, diverse cultural heritages within communities and to promote intercultural dialogue. It pushed governments and nongovernmental organizations to address matters of financial investment, legal accountability, partnership management, and the shaping of policies on conservation and ownership rights. It challenged professional historians as well as archivists, librarians, archeologists, conservators, and curators to think hard about widening access and about ways of integrating local, national, and international perspectives when communicating with audiences about surviving traces of the past.
Cultural Heritages and Their Transmission
Elizabeth C. Macknight
Methods for Historians Attending to the Voices of the Past
How do we thoroughly historicize the voice, or integrate it into our historical research, and how do we account for the mundane daily practices of voice … the constant talking, humming, murmuring, whispering, and mumbling that went on offstage, in living rooms, debating clubs, business meetings, and on the streets? Work across the humanities has provided us with approaches to deal with aspects of voices, vocality, and their sounds. This article considers how we can mobilize and adapt such interdisciplinary methods for the study of history. It charts out a practical approach to attend to the history of voices—including unmusical ones—before recording, drawing on insights from the fields of sound studies, musicology, and performativity. It suggests ways to “listen anew” to familiar sources as well as less conventional source material. And it insists on a combination of analytical approaches focusing on vocabulary, bodily practice, and the questionable particularity of sound.
France’s Great War from the Edge
Susan B. Whitney
World War I has been studied extensively by historians of France and for good reason. Waging the first industrial war required mobilizing all of France's resources, whether military, political, economic, cultural, or imperial. Politicians from the left and the right joined forces to govern the country, priests and seminarians were drafted into the army, factories were retooled to produce armaments and other war material, and women and children were enlisted to do their part. So too were colonial subjects. More than 500,000 men from France's empire fought in Europe for the French Army, while another 200,000 colonial subjects labored in France's wartime workplaces. The human losses were staggering and the political, economic, and cultural reverberations long-lasting, both in the metropole and in the colonies. More than 1.3 million French soldiers and an estimated 71,000 colonial soldiers lost their lives, leaving behind approximately 1.1 million war orphans and 600,000 war widows.
Colonial Law Enforcement and the Search for Racial-Territorial Hegemony
Commenting on the colonial setting in its twilight during the Algerian War of Independence, Frantz Fanon famously observed: “Le travail du colon est de rendre impossible jusqu'aux rêves de liberté du colonisé. Le travail du colonisé est d'imaginer toutes les combinaisons éventuelles pour anéantir le colon (the task of the colonizer is to make impossible even the dreams of liberty of the colonized. The task of the colonized is to conceive of every possible strategy to wipe out the colonizer).”
Priests, Parishioners, and the Catholic Church in New Spain
This article analyzes the influence of confessional manuals on Catholic priests who solicited sexual favors from parishioners during confession throughout colonial New Spain. It proposes that we think about centuries of sexual encounters between priests and parishioners through the concept of cross-generational abuse, which describes intersecting forms of priestly exploitation based on chronological age differentials, allegorical power relations based on the rhetoric of spiritual kinship, and priests’ own abilities to profess redemption years after conviction and thereby regain positions of authority over parishioners. The plurality of these forms of abuse move beyond the usual associations of cross-generational sex solely with the question of age. It opens up the category of cross-generational sex and enlarges its potential to be a topic for historical reflection.
Nicholas L. Syrett
The introduction situates the historiography on queer intergenerational sex in the realm of scholarship on queer history, the history of childhood, and the literature on the significance of chronological age. It lays out three broad schemas that have organized queer intergenerational sex—looking at it as a phallic economy where boys submitted to older men in ways that were akin to women; as a function of pederastic or pedophilic desires; and as abuse—and also explores the overlap and permutations among these categories. It then introduces the six articles in this forum, elucidating their central arguments and the contributions that they make to this dynamic field.
A Case Study of Norman Douglas
Rachel Hope Cleves
Intergenerational sex between children or youth and adults was historically common, but it is understudied within the historiography of sexuality. There are three reasons that historians of sexuality should pay greater attention to intergenerational sex. First, it was common; second, discourse around intergenerational sex has been a critical site for the production of power; and third, studying intergenerational sex illuminates how sexuality is historically constructed. However, studying intergenerational sex also raises thorny methodological problems around definitions of childhood and consent, the treatment of children's agency, and how to contextualize a practice that was once considered ordinary but is now taboo. Using examples from my research on the writer and notorious pederast Norman Douglas, I address each of these methodological concerns and suggest productive approaches.
Amanda H. Littauer
Drawing on letters and writings by teenage girls and oral history interviews, this article aims to open a scholarly conversation about the existence and significance of intergenerational sexual relationships between minor girls and adult women in the years leading up to and encompassing the lesbian feminist movement of the 1970s. Lesbian history and culture say very little about sexual connections between youth and adults, sweeping them under the rug in gender-inflected ways that differ from the suppression of speech in gay male history and culture about intergenerational sex between boys and men. Nonetheless, my research suggests that, despite lesbian feminists’ caution and even negativity toward teen girls, erotic and sexual relationships with adult women provided girls access to support, pleasure, mentorship, and community.
Love, Sex, and Scandal in Twentieth-Century Ireland
In 1941, State Solicitor for Kildare Ronald Brown was charged with fourteen counts of gross indecency. The court records and his unusual life before and after the trial suggest that there is a story worth examining. In independent Ireland, the state was particularly concerned with adult same-sex desiring men corrupting teen boys. Brown's government position, his lover's age, and their intergenerational relationship all shaped the outcomes of this case. Although gross indecency cases ruined the lives of the implicated, including Solicitor Brown and his alleged lover Leslie Price, a close reading of the case material reveals a deep affection between a late adolescent boy and an adult man that would otherwise be invisible in a forcibly closeted mid-century Ireland.
This article explores the condemnation of male–male cross-generational sexual practices in the Ottoman Empire during World War I (1914–1918) through a sexual harassment case that took place in an orphanage in Konya. Relying on the police registers and incorporating individual testimonies of orphan boys who were sexually abused by the headmaster, Münir Bey, I explore the wartime political and sexological discourses on cross-generational homoerotic sexual practices against the backdrop of the institutionalization of heterosexual sex. I argue that, rather than the act of sexual abuse itself, in the wartime ideological climate it was the sexual interaction between same-sex individuals that alarmed Ottoman state and society and forced them to take action against it. Male–male cross-generational sex and homoeroticism itself became bigger crimes than the act of sexually abusing underage individuals.