A Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1960.

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Author: Nisha Kommattam
Date: Sept. 2019
From: Journal of the History of Sexuality(Vol. 28, Issue 3)
Publisher: University of Texas at Austin (University of Texas Press)
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,229 words

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A Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1960. Edited by VERONIKA FUECHTNER, DOUGLAS E. HAYNES, AND RYAN M. JONES. Oakland: University of California Press, 2018. Pp. 496. $85.00 (cloth); $34.95 (paper); $35.95 (e-book).

This book is a much-needed intervention in the field of sexuality studies. It constitutes a rich, multilayered resource for any scholar or student interested in the late nineteenth-century emergence of "sexual science" and its powerful trajectory over the first half of the twentieth century. As the editors point out, a knowledge of this trajectory is vital for both a chronological and historically contextualized, deep understanding of contemporary sexuality studies, as well as for research on sexual rights-based activism and politics (21).

Veronika Fuechtner, Douglas E. Haynes, and Ryan M. Jones disentangle some often-misunderstood key terminology in their (highly teachable) introduction. They acknowledge the manifold interdisciplinary practices that were historically subsumed under the term Sexualwissenschaft (sexual science), as well as the fact that many of these sites of sexual science--endocrinology, physiology, psychoanalysis, psychology, anthropology, and so on--did not necessarily engage in collaborative or synthesized knowledge production. The term overlaps with, yet is distinct from, the later term "sexology," which gained more traction within a medicoclinical context (5). Despite this disambiguation, there has been significant interchangeable use of both terms in scholarship. (1) The editors also point out that in spite of its interdisciplinarity and vast impact on modern cultural and social history, sexual science is no longer a "formal field" in European and North American universities. This observation invites important questions about the evolution of "sexual science," via "sexology," toward the origin and role of contemporary gender and sexuality studies as we know it, warranting further (self-Reflection and investigation. One might argue that the institutional(ized) fragmentation of today's "sexual science" across disciplines is only partially remedied by the existence of humanities- and social science-dominated centers /...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A605011065