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Nicholas L. Syrett

Abstract

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.

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The Problem of Modern Pederasty in Queer History

A Case Study of Norman Douglas

Rachel Hope Cleves

Abstract

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.

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Amanda H. Littauer

Abstract

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.

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Solicitor Brown and His Boy

Love, Sex, and Scandal in Twentieth-Century Ireland

Averill Earls

Abstract

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.

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Tuğçe Kayaal

Abstract

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.

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“What They Had between Their Legs Was a Form of Cash”

Homosexuality, Male Prostitution, and Intergenerational Sex in 1950s Italy

Alessio Ponzio

Abstract

This article, showing how ubiquitous male youth prostitution was in 1950s Italy, exposes the pederastic and (homo)sexual vivacity of this decade. Moreover, this article also suggests that even if police, the media, and medical institutions were trying to crystallize a rigid chasm between homo- and heterosexuality, there were still forces in Italian society that resisted such strict categorization. The young hustlers described by contemporary observers bear witness to the sexual flexibility of the 1950s in Italy. These youths inhabited queer spaces lacking a clear-cut hetero–homo divide, spaces where “modern” sexological categories and identities had not yet entered. Prior to the mass circulation of rigid sexual labels, it was still possible for many Italian boys, youths, and young men to dwell in liminal queer spaces. The exchange of money purified their acts, guaranteed their maleness, and effaced potential stigmatization.

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American Women in the Vittel Internment Camp

Religions, Morality, and Culture

Page Dougherty Delano

This article is a study of the complex social environment within the Vittel internment camp in eastern France during World War II. The Germans arrested some two thousand British women and then nearly three hundred American women of different class backgrounds, religions, political beliefs, and national affiliations, who were placed in the hotels of this spa town. The Vittel internment camp also became the temporary home of around three hundred Jews from the Warsaw ghetto, who claimed to possess American and South American citizenship. Most of these Jews were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. Drawing on memoirs, letters, Red Cross reports, and scattered histories, this article explores the interactions, resistance, and prejudices of camp inhabitants. It argues that American women’s behavior was guided less by religious beliefs than one might expect in the context of the 1940s.

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Anastasia Deligiaouri and Jane Suiter

Abstract

How can we define democracy today given the continuous changes that modern societies are undergoing? What is the role of a democratic theorist? This paper articulates a threefold argument in responding to these questions by analyzing the term of democracy in vitro, in vivo, and in actu. The first step is to secure a democratic minimum and the core principles of democracy. The second step involves studying democracy as an ongoing project and examining how the principles of this democratic minimum are encoded. In the third step we deploy the basic premises of discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe when evaluating a specific discourse of democracy, as this approach encompasses both discursive and nondiscursive practices. Utilizing this three-level evaluative framework for democratic theory will allow us to not only articulate normative principles but also evaluate them according to their mode of implementation.

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Niklas Olsen, Irene Herrmann, Håvard Brede Aven, and Mohinder Singh

Crisis and Existentialism in the Work of Reinhart Koselleck

Gennaro Imbriano, Der Begriff der Politik: Die Moderne als Krisenzeit im Werk von Reinhart Koselleck [The concept of politics: Modernity as a time of crisis in the work of Reinhart Koselleck] (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2018), 187 pp.

Jan Eike Dunkhase, Absurde Geschichte: Reinhart Kosellecks historischer Existentialismus [Absurd history: Reinhart Koselleck's historical existentialism] (Marbach: Deutschen Literaturarchiv Marbach, 2015), 67 pp.

Humanity in Practice: New Approaches to Conceptual History

Fabian Klose and Mirjam Thulin, eds., Humanity: A History of European Concepts in Practice from the Sixteenth Century to the Present (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016), 324 pp.

The Merits of Mistranslation

Eric Schatzberg, Technology: Critical History of a Concept (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), 344 pp.

Beyond Universalism and Nativism: The Conceptual Vocabulary of Indian Modernity

Gita Dharmpal-Frick, Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach, Rachel Dwyer, and Jahnavi Phalkey, eds., Key Concepts in Modern Indian Studies (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015), 350 pp.

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Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice

Democratic Theory through an Agonistic Lens

Marie Paxton

Abstract

This article seeks to explore democratic theory by focusing on the example of agonistic democracy, in which contest between citizens is valued for its potential to render politics more inclusive, more engaging, and more virtuous. Using Connolly and Tully's inclusivism, Chantal Mouffe's adversarialism, and David Owen's perfectionism, the article discusses democratic theory as a critique, a series of normative proposals, and a potential bridge between political theory and public policy. It is this bridge that enables democratic theory to pull together critical and normative discussions with those surrounding public policy and institutional design.