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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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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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Clarifying Liquidity

Keynes and Marx, Merchants, and Poets

Rolf Hugoson

Abstract

This article is a history of liquidity presented as interaction between metaphors and theoretical concepts in social contexts. While taking note of Zygmunt Bauman's metaphor “liquid modernity,” the study instead surveys the wider conceptual field. The text turns around mercantile liquidity (liquidity as clarification) and liquidity in modern economics (characteristic of all assets), as well as older metaphors, notably the famous phrase of the Communist Manifesto, “all that is solid melts into air” (Alles Ständische und Stehende verdampft), which is revealed to have resonance in texts by poets, notably Heinrich Heine. The main result is the historical consistency of the field, where liquidity is a promise of knowledge and clarity.

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Max Stille

Abstract

This review article provides an overview of important, recent approaches to conceptual history from scholarship on South Asia. While conceptual history is not a consolidated field in South Asia, the colonial encounter has greatly stimulated interest in conceptual inquiries. Recent scholarship questions the uniformity even of well-researched concepts such as liberalism. It is methodologically innovative in thinking about the influence of economic structures for the development of concepts. Rethinking religious and secular languages, scholars have furthermore stressed the importance of smaller communicative units such as genre or hermeneutical practices to shape ideas e.g. of the political. As part of global and imperial formations, scholars are well aware of the link between power and colonial temporalities. Lastly, they have suggested new sources for conceptual history, such as literature, film, and sound.