Congratulations to Rebecca Hodes who has been awarded a two-month fellowship by the Humanities Institute at Dartmouth College to participate in a collective research project under the theme, ‘Towards a Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1950’.
Rebecca’s individual project is entitled, ‘Science, race and ‘sexual aberration’ in South African medicine, c. 1880 – 1950’. It aims to explore changing scientific interpretations of African sexuality from the closing decades of the 19th century until the mid-20th century. Through combining an analysis of medical publications, anthropological writings and the official communications of colonial and governmental authorities, this research will examine how changes in scientific conceptions of race and sexuality were understood and reflected in medical practice during this time. It will focus particularly on cases of sexual ‘aberration’ in order to explore how supposed sexual abnormalities – ‘physical’ and ‘behavioural’ – were appraised and ‘treated’.
With some notable exceptions, South Africa’s history of sexuality, particularly the convergence of sexology and scientific racism, remain largely unexplored in scholarship. This is partly because of the ethical and epistemological challenges posed by retrospective investigations of medical practices and attempts to unearth and evaluate the histories of patients.
Numerous researchers at Huma are working on aspects of sexuality from the interdisciplinary perspectives of history, sociology, gender and media studies. Rebecca’s research will contribute to lively conversations among colleagues interested in sexuality at Huma and beyond. Dr Hodes will be in residence at Dartmouth between August and September 2013.