Magnus Hirschfeld and the Quest for Sexual Freedom: A History of the First International Sexual Freedom Movement

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Palgrave Macmillan, Oct 15, 2010 - History - 204 pages
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Against the late nineteenth-century European trend of theoretical elaborations of negative homosexual stereotypes and the legal persecution of homosexuals, German sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) introduced a scientific and humanistic approach to homosexual emancipation. Radical from the outset, his pioneering theorizations of gender overturned the dual sex system and revealed the artificiality of gender. Beyond destabilizing traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity and substantiating the naturalness of such phenomena as homosexual, intersexed, and transgendered identities, Hirschfeld deployed his theories to serve as the basis of a steadfast and influential campaign for the decriminalization of homosexuality and an international sexual freedom movement that championed the principal causes of the women’s movement and the rights of all sexual minorities. Integrating the predominant cultural, scientific, and political discourses during Hirschfeld’s lifetime, Elena Mancini illuminates his cosmopolitan and classical liberal political and cultural stance, showing him as more than a homosexual theorist and activist. This fascinating study shows how his opposition to fascism and to all forms of sexual and racial hierarchies makes him a humanist for our times and an inspiration for those who strive for social and political inclusion and tolerance.

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Evolution of Hirschfelds Scientific Outlook
Politics War and Activism
Panhumanistic Cosmopolitanism Exile and Final Years

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About the author (2010)

Elena Mancini received her Ph.D. in German Studies from Rutgers University. She has taught at Hunter College, Montclair University, and Rutgers, and is the Culture Editor for Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture.

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