Preliminary Programme

Wed 18 March
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    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Thu 19 March
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    14.00 - 16.00
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Fri 20 March
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    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Sat 21 March
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    14.00 - 16.00
    16.00 - 17.00

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Wednesday 18 March 2020 14.00 - 16.00
ZA-3 SEX09 Breaches in the Sexual Front: European Sexualities In and Post War
Van Wijkplaats 4, 005
Network: Sexuality Chair: Chris Waters
Organizers: - Discussants: -
Justin Bengry : Pardon me for Disregarding your Apology! Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences in Britain
On Christmas Eve, 2013, David Cameron’s government reaffirmed Alan Turing’s guilt. In 1952, Turing was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ for having had consensual sex with another man. The royal pardon that was posthumously extended to Turing with great fanfare did not overturn or erase his conviction. The government employed the ... (Show more)
On Christmas Eve, 2013, David Cameron’s government reaffirmed Alan Turing’s guilt. In 1952, Turing was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ for having had consensual sex with another man. The royal pardon that was posthumously extended to Turing with great fanfare did not overturn or erase his conviction. The government employed the pardon to loudly applaud itself for its seemingly progressive stand on LGBTQ issues without taking any risk or making meaningful change: the dead can neither refuse pardons nor embarrass the government. The pardon was merely the extension of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. On the advice of the government the Crown simply forgave Turing in spite of his guilt.

Three years later, on 21 October 2016, Conservative Justice Minister Sam Gyimah was instrumental in the failed second reading of the Sexual Offences (Pardons Etc.) Bill, a private member’s bill that sought to clear the names of men convicted for historic homosexual offences that are no longer crimes. Introduced by SNP MP John Nicolson, the bill would have expanded the number of offences for which pardons — and more importantly, ‘disregards’, which effectively erase convictions — could be extended to living men as well as to the dead. Nicolson’s bill would have extended both pardons and the disregard process to include the crime of ‘solicitation’, thereby opening up the opportunity to petition the government for redress to a far greater number of men. It rightfully acknowledged that more men were victimised by homophobic laws and police targeting than previously identified by the state. It would have forced the government and police services to publicly acknowledge that their victimisation of queer men did not end with so-called decriminalisation in 1967, but in fact escalated substantially.

This paper critically examines the UK government’s 2012 Protection of Freedoms Act, which created the disregard process, and the 2017 Policing and Crime Act, which introduced statutory pardons for some men convicted of some homosexual offences. It demonstrates that there is little willingness on the part of the government to offer more than tokenistic (and caveat-laden) apologies, and that it has deliberately misled both criminalised queer men and the wider public as part of an ongoing reframing of British Conservatism as gay friendly. (Show less)

Davide Giuseppe Colasanto : At the Origins of the Sexual Revolution: Press, Politics, and Consumerism in 1960s Italy
Supported by the economic boom and the full transition to a consumer society, Italy in the early 1960s registered a flourishing production of cultural magazines of all kinds and for all segments of society. In a linguistically divided country with a very low number of book readers (only 18% of ... (Show more)
Supported by the economic boom and the full transition to a consumer society, Italy in the early 1960s registered a flourishing production of cultural magazines of all kinds and for all segments of society. In a linguistically divided country with a very low number of book readers (only 18% of Italians had read at least one book in 1958), magazines became the concrete bridge between high and popular culture with hundreds of thousands of copies sold every week.
Motivated by a yet untapped mass market segment, and the widespread appeal of the topic, a few publishers started to focus their core subject matter on sexuality. It was a tricky path, one constantly hampered by the numerous judicial obstacles of a moral conservative legislative system. Nonetheless, a few magazines reached editorial and popular success with a deliberate mix of increasingly less covered bodies, investigative reports on the most urgent political and social problems, and interventions of national and international intellectuals.
My research reconstructs the historical significance of two cultural magazines: Playmen and ABC. These are key sources because of their relevant contribution to the common sexual imaginary of those years. The first magazine was an editorial success led by a woman (Adelina Tattilo), selling more copies than Playboy Italy, and hosting cultural articles and interviews with men and women of culture (it was a huge and remarkable popular phenomenon, but to date there have been no academic studies of this magazine). ABC was the most active magazine in promoting a political vision based on fostering sexual liberation and all related political fights (divorce, abortion, equal rights, etc.) by juxtaposing tantalizing images of naked bodies to well crafted journalistic reports on politics and sexuality. During the 1960s and 1970s both magazines had an average distribution of 350,000 copies every week.
These magazines have never been studied within the historiography of the sexual revolution. We need to address their fundamental role in shaping the political, social, and cultural frameworks of the late 1960s and 1970s. These examples show the central role of consumer culture in shaping both fantasies and politics of sexuality within a context and legal system of moral conservatism. Only by looking at these cultural objects it is possible to reconstruct the role of less known but fundamental actors of the sexual revolution. (Show less)

Charles Hamilton : 'Solidarity not Surrender': Queer Antifascism, the Politics of Sexuality, and Postwar Fascism in Europe
Queer activists have played a leading role in the current revival of antifascism as seen at the 2017 Charlottesville and Berkeley rallies. Yet the history of queer antifascist resistance remains unexplored. Intersectional and transnational approaches are needed which examine the interconnections of sexuality, gender, race, and class in antifascist organizing.

My ... (Show more)
Queer activists have played a leading role in the current revival of antifascism as seen at the 2017 Charlottesville and Berkeley rallies. Yet the history of queer antifascist resistance remains unexplored. Intersectional and transnational approaches are needed which examine the interconnections of sexuality, gender, race, and class in antifascist organizing.

My paper does this by looking at gay liberationists in 1970s Europe who formulated a queer antifascism. By this they meant a robust antifascist activism rooted in queerness and an analysis of an ‘everyday fascism’ imminent to capitalist society and connected to existing oppressive structures of patriarchy, racism, and compulsory heterosexuality. For these activists, queerness was necessarily antifascist and intersectional. This was a conscious challenge to dominant medical, popular, and activist discourses which constructed fascism as queer going back to the 1930s such as Stalinist interpretations of homosexuality as bourgeois decadence and William Reich’s work on the politics of sexuality.

In my paper, I will focus on the 1970s when gay liberation movements first emerged in Europe challenging structural inequalities while calling for the creation of radical queer subjectivities. These activists, especially in Britain, France, Italy, and Germany, made unique contributions to antifascist theory and praxis. While the larger antifascist movement of the late 1970s organized against formal fascist parties, queer antifascists adopted novel tactics privileging direct action and community work, and utilized an intersectional approach centering queerphobia as a constitutive aspect of fascist ideology. Rooting their activism in their lived experience as an oppressed community, these activists confronted fascism in structural terms by organizing against white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism in everyday life while also standing against explicitly fascist parties.

Due to the lack of work on these activists, my paper relies on a combination of oral histories, against-the-grain archival research, and private collections. Oral histories in particular allow me to queer canonical antifascist histories while introducing new perspectives on previously-overlooked aspects of antifascist organizing, such as the perspectives of women of color, the divisions within the antifascist movement, and the role of diverse antifascist subcultures as fundraisers and builders of queer communities.

From 1970, queer antifascists were already organizing within groups such as the Front homosexuel d'action révolutionnaire in France and the Gay Liberation Front in the UK which viewed itself explicitly as “part of the wider movement aiming to abolish all forms of oppression” under capitalism. By the mid to late 1970s, large queer movements had emerged emphasizing antifascism as a necessary practice for all radical queers. By the early 1980s, many of these movements were folding after years of rejection from a still homophobic left. In the wake of the AIDs crisis and the shift of European governments towards the right, many queer antifascists moved towards new forms of autonomous and local organizing increasingly directed against the state. This was a restructuring rather than an endpoint. Despite formally declining, these activists left lasting legacies, namely new possibilities for radical queer subjectivities and a pioneering structural analysis of fascism which remains more relevant today than ever. (Show less)

Vandana Joshi : Wartime Sexuality: Transnational, Cross-racial Sexual Encounters in Germany and Britain in WWII
The paper goes beyond ‘methodological nationalism’ and investigates everyday life in the Third Reich and the waning British Empire during WWII. It investigates the underbelly of the ‘imagined national community’ during war years through the lens of gender, race and sexuality when ‘the empire came home’. It does so by ... (Show more)
The paper goes beyond ‘methodological nationalism’ and investigates everyday life in the Third Reich and the waning British Empire during WWII. It investigates the underbelly of the ‘imagined national community’ during war years through the lens of gender, race and sexuality when ‘the empire came home’. It does so by examining the hegemonic discourses on the ‘unified national community’, soldiering, war wives, citizenship, patriotism and their wider orchestration in public. It proposes that a formidable challenge that the two nation-states/empires encountered in insulating their respective ‘imagined national communities’ in the presence of undesirable aliens were ordinary people themselves, largely their own womenfolk. The home front became a site of sexual encounters between native women and ‘aliens’ soldiers, whether allied or captive. An exploration of wartime sexuality reveals that within the ‘imagined national community’ sexual transgressions occurred at several levels ranging from consensual to coerced sex despite ideology, propaganda, prejudice and faith. Through the encounters of ‘war wives’ with the POWs in Germany and ‘good time girls’ with Black GIs in Britain, I open the universe of wartime sexual-racial anxieties of the two nation-empires and explore patterns of non-compliant social practices across national communities. This was the time when nation state firmed up their racial boundaries and female citizenry corroded it through race mingling. The paper adds a fresh chapter not just to the history of gender, race, sexuality and empire but also to the emerging field of history of emotions. The paper will present insights that I have gained from the multi-lingual archives in Germany and Britain over the years, such as the state archives of Hanover, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Chemnitz and Leipzig, Foreign Office Berlin, the National Archive, Kew, Imperial War Museum, London, Mass Observation Archive and Somerset Archive. (Show less)

Alessio Ponzio : Failed Projects and Lonely Hearts: Der Kreis and the Italian Homophiles
The first Italian gay organization (FUORI) was founded in Turin in 1971. In an interview the founder of the Italian Homosexual Revolutionary Front, Angelo Pezzana, underlined how he discovered ideas and ideals of the American and British gay liberation movements through books and publications. He underlined how the decision of ... (Show more)
The first Italian gay organization (FUORI) was founded in Turin in 1971. In an interview the founder of the Italian Homosexual Revolutionary Front, Angelo Pezzana, underlined how he discovered ideas and ideals of the American and British gay liberation movements through books and publications. He underlined how the decision of founding the Front was also a consequence of transnational impulses. However, before the FUORI was founded, Italians were already part of a transnational movement. In the 1950s one figure, Bernardino del Boca di Villaregia, was particularly active in searching for homophile connections. He “represented” Italy at the first conference organized by the International Committee for Sexual Equality in 1951 in Amsterdam, he built strong ties with the Swiss Der Kreis, he tried not only to found an Italian homophile group but also to create an Italian homophile periodical. His projects were a failure. But such attempts were fruit of his connection with the homophile network. Del Boca was not the only one searching for contacts. There were many “independent” Italian queers who, not having a local homophile organization and looking for "friendly" and "understanding" spaces, tried to reach out to groups abroad. In this paper I will look at the ways in which the Swiss homophile organization not only shaped Del Boca’s projects, but also attracted attentions and hopes of many isolated Italian men who, in the 1950s and early 1960s, wrote letters to Der Kreis and published personal announcements on Das Kleine Blatt – the lonely heart supplement published by the Swiss organization – trying to escape from their isolation. Transnational physical and intellectual exchanges not only favored the more or less successful implementation of ambitious projects, but they also affected the lives of many queers desiring contacts. (Show less)



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