Open events
Event #1130

Queer Lives on Display: In the Archives of The Institute of Sexual Science in Berlin


Monday, June 3, 2019

09:00 - 10:30
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Irving K. Barber Learning Centre - IBLC 301 LILLOOET
UBC featured talks
English | anglais
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What does it mean to ‘archive’ the lives of people whose bodies and desires do not match the norms of their time? This talk discusses the Institute of Sexual Sciences in Berlin, arguably the world’s first LGBTI archive, building on recent queer and trans scholarship on the uses of archival practices in transformative politics. The Institute was founded in 1919 by the influential Jewish sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935). Best known today for his homosexual rights campaigns, conception of ‘sexual intermediaries’ and foundational studies of what he called ‘transvestism’, Hirschfeld is one of the most influential figures in modern sex research and activism. At the Institute he accumulated a unique ‘archive of sex’ full of books, journals, clinical notes, objects, visual materials other documents relating to LGBTI issues. This library was destroyed in a Nazi attack in 1933, although materials from the collection survive to this day. Examining the Institute’s complex history, the talk will reckon with the limits as well as the gains of ‘evidence’ based sexual rights politics. 
Heike Bauer is Professor of Modern Literature and Cultural History and Head of the Department of English & Humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London. She has published widely on the sexology, literature and modern history of sexuality, including most recently the books The Hirschfeld Archives: Violence, Death, and Modern Queer Culture (Temple UP, 2017; available open access: and (ed.) Sexology and Translation: Cultural and Scientific Encounters Across the Modern World (Temple UP, 2015).
  • Heike Bauer, Professor of Modern Literature and Cultural History, Birkbeck, University of London