Contested Sexualities: Male Homosexuality and the State in Twentieth-Century Argentina and Spain


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project explores how state authorities, scientific experts, and sexual nonconformists battled over the meanings of male homosexuality in Argentina and Spain between the 1950s and 1980s. The predominant historical narrative traces an arc from the nineteenth-century medical view on homosexuality as a distinct ontology to the liberation movements of the 1960s. However, this project shows that medical taxonomies in Argentina and Spain replicated commonly held categories based on sexual role and social behavior, instead of establishing a view of homosexuals as a distinct group. Sexual nonconformists resisted the state’s codification of homosexuality as a social danger through their appropriation of traditional values such as romantic love, religiosity, and family life, or through hypersexualized performances of femininity or masculinity. These strategies of resistance circulated between both countries through exiles’ intellectual works and artistic performances, while the discreet, homophile politics of respectability gave way to the liberationist politics of visibility.