KEYNOTE, Nov. 23rd: Pascal Eitler

Consuming sex, producing sex - recent interests and open questions in historical research

ABSTRACT: To consume sexual practices or goods means to produce, to copy, to establish, or to invent a special kind of sex or sexuality. Too often, research on changes in the consumption of sexuality assumes that they concern only the way how people assess and consume sexuality while sexuality itself lies beyond these changes. I suggest treating the consumption of sexuality as a way of producing sexuality and argue that this dynamic gained considerably in importance during the 19th and 20th centuries.

My talk will outline recent developments in the research field and focus on crucial topics within the history of sexuality such as the normalization, visualization, and orientalization of sexuality. I will also discuss how historical research has used the distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality to structure and delimit the field. Instead, we need to expand our perspective by taking into account actors and phantasies beyond this dichotomy. For example, there is much research to be done on the sexuality of “elderly” or “disabled” people.   

Short-CV: Pascal Eitler is working in a BMBF-research project on the production and consumption of sexualities and things. He is also adjunct researcher at the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and co-editor of the open access journal Body Politics. His most recent book publications are (with Peter-Paul Bänziger, Magdalena Beljan and Franz X. Eder eds.), Sexuelle Revolution? Zur Geschichte der Sexualität im deutschsprachigen Raum seit den 1960er Jahren (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2015) and (with Jens Elberfeld ed.) Zeitgeschichte des Selbst: Therapeutisierung—Politisierung—Emotionalisierung (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2015).

KEYNOTE, Nov. 24th: Christine Haug

Erotic and pornographic reading materials in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries: distribution and consumption

ABSTRACT: The goal of the lecture is to design a topography of the production centres and trading networks for erotic-pornographic reading materials in Europe from 1650 to 1800 and unveil the transnational economic publishing interconnections and distribution strategies which were characteristic of this special market. In contrast, for example, to France, the trade in outlawed reading materials in the German-speaking countries did not take place in the literary underground, but instead developed in a semi-public area. Mercantilist economic policy with the variety of borders and customs stations in 17th and 18th-century Europe was particularly stimulating the formation of a professional underground economy with far-reaching smuggling networks. This is a special feature which can be traced back to the fact there was a wealth of individual territories and consequently the borders between them – something which should by no means be underestimated – were easily passable, the further functional implications of which have hitherto not been sufficiently investigated. With a view to the distribution and reception of erotic-pornographic reading material, only an important aspect will thus be added to censorship research, namely the ineffectiveness of rules and regulations imposed by church and state, a circumstance which was often tolerated by the powers that be. The transnational development of trading areas for erotic publications is accompanied by the appearance of specially developed business and financial models in the publishing trade on the part of individual publishers as well as their marketing strategies.

Short-CV: 2002-2004: Habilitation scholarship of the DFG for the project »Traveling and reading at the time of industrialization. On the industrialization and development of the railroad book trade from its beginnings around 1850 until the end of the Weimar Republic«; 2003/2004: Habilitation at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz; since 2006 Professor of the Study of the Book at LMU Munich; 2015/2016: Senior reasearcher in Residence at the Center for Advanced Studies at the LMU Munich / Subject of the research project: For the production and distribution of erotic-pornographic reading materials in the Age of Enlightenment; 2018: Foundation of the Center for the Study of the Book: Book Research - Publishing - Digital Media. Main research: Global trade networks (peddlar networks) in 17th and 18th century Europe; production and distribution of erotic-pornographic reading materials between 1650 and 1850.

Justin Bengry

'Get a Move On, Mr. Butler': The Business of Homosexual Legal Reform

ABSTRACT: Between the release of the Wolfenden Report in 1957, which advocated the partial decriminalisation of consensual homosexual acts between adult men in private, and the passing of the Sexual Offences Bill ten years later, homosexual law reform was a significant public issue. Debated across multiple media, homosexuality could be a lucrative political and social cause. This paper considers the economic motivations behind supporting legal reform. As with other economic incentives, actions that encouraged progressive change are complicated and often contradictory. Commercial support for legal reform could still attract economic success through curiosity and titillation. Besides identifying the motivations of commercial actors such as marketers, advertisers and others, this paper demonstrates how activists themselves realized that consumer sites, public precisely because they were commercial, were among the most promising opportunities for the promotion of their cause, the changing of opinions, and the repeal of unjust laws. Strategies used by the London-based Homosexual Law Reform Society, which focused on the gradual transformation of public opinion in favour of change, included awareness of opportunities of mass consumer culture, relying in part on the infrastructures of consumer capitalism to achieve support for reform.

SHORT-CV and AFFILIATION: Dr., Justin Bengry PhD Lecturer in Queer History and MA Queer History Convenor at Goldsmiths, University of London; Justin Bengry is Lecturer in Queer History at Goldsmiths, University of London where he convenes the MA in Queer History, the first postgraduate degree of its kind. He is active in public and digital histories, and research into the UK’s policy for extending pardons to men convicted for past homosexual offences have been republished in the UK and US. His work on homosexuality and capitalism has been appeared in History Workshop Journal, Media History, and several edited collections. He was the lead researcher on the Historic England initiative ‘Pride of Place: England’s LGBTQ Heritage', which resulted in several new statutory listings of heritage sites for their LGBTQ significance. He is the founder and co-editor of the leading history of sexuality blog NOTCHES. His book project The Pink Pound: Capitalism and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Britain is under contract with the University of Chicago Press.

Jessica Borge

The 1963 Which? Contraceptive Report, British Standard 3704 and anti-commercial action against the condom 1960s Britain.

ABSTRACT: Over the winter of 1963-1964, Which? magazine, the subscription journal of the Consumers’ Association, drip-fed snippets of its forthcoming supplement on contraceptives to the British press. The first of its kind in the UK, the Which? Special Report on Contraceptives presented a dossier on all non-prescription birth control products available. But although the Which? report has provided an important source for historians of contraception and consumerism in the British 1960s, its authorship, dissemination and intended effect as part of the anti-profit family planning lobby has not been satisfactorily addressed. This paper will show that as well as benefitting the Consumers’ Association, the Which? report served as a joint propaganda project with non-profit collaborators who were united in publicly attacking contraceptive commerce. Employing an historical-critical method to uncover hidden motivations behind the Consumers’ Association report, this paper dusts off and revitalises a known primary source, addressing the need for a consumer guide to retail contraception at this point in the 1960s and asking Which? of the stakeholders really had the upper hand.

AFFILIATION: Dr Jessica Borge, Post-doctoral researcher with the ERC BodyCapital project, Université de Strasbourg

Dr Jessica Borge received her PhD Film, Media & Cultural Studies in 2017 from Birkbeck College, University of London (title of thesis: “‘Wanting it Both Ways’: The London Rubber Company, the Condom and the Pill, 1915-1970”). She is currently a Post-doctoral researcher with the ERC BodyCapital project at the University of Strasbourg, where she examines intersections of British TV and various contraceptive stakeholders from the 1950s-1990s. Dr Borge is currently preparing a first monograph based on her PhD thesis, for McGill-Queens University Press. Other works include: “What we have not got”: The London Rubber Company, the Condom and Feminor Oral Contraceptive Pill, 1955-1970,” Social History of Medicine [In Review] and “Propagating Progress and Circumventing Harm: Reconciling References to Contraceptives in British Television and Cinema of the 1960s,” in Reproductive Rights Issues in Popular Media: International Perspectives, ed. Waltraud Maierhofer and Beth Capo, (McFarland, 2017).

Fred Fejes

“Normalizing” Lesbian/Gay Identity Through Consumption: The American Experience in the 1990s.

ABSTRACT:  Prior to the 1990s lesbian/gay sexual identity was viewed as deviant. And, with the advent of AIDS, gay men in particular were seen as a serious social threat.  However in the 1990s advertisers began to recognize the importance and profit in reaching the gay/lesbian  market. During this decade, advertisers began to expand their campaign  to the gay/lesbian audience by running ads with explicit lesbian or gay content in national fashion and other specialty magazines. In spite of the powerful anti-lesbian/gay political and cultural campaign being then being  conducted by the  religious right, the marketing success of these advertisements and media showed advertisers and media producers this was a profitable strategy.  It was, thus,  through this commodification of lesbian/gay identity  that the stage was set for the upcoming century. Through the creation and awareness  of lesbian and gay men, not as sexual subjects, but as consuming subjects in a neo-liberal, media-centric political economy, important political and social gains were  won.

AFFILIATION: Prof. Fred Fejes, PhD, Florida Atlantic University, Palacky University

Matleena Frisk

Male deodorant usage and changing masculinity in the 1960s and early 1970s Finland

ABSTRACT: This paper explores how changes in norms of gender and heterosexuality are connected to consumption by studying young Finnish men’s adoption of deodorant usage in the 1960s and the early 1970s, as well as deodorant advertising. The majority of men did not use deodorant in the early 1960s Northern Europe. Deodorant was widely available in the late fifties and early sixties but was associated with perfumes and scents and understood as feminine, and was therefore considered problematic by most male users. Male deodorant consumption only grew when both the normative understanding of (heterosexual) men and the understanding of deodorant as a product were transformed. By analyzing the way male consumers were addressed in advertisements published in a widely read Finnish popular music oriented youth magazine, Suosikki, I divide the understanding of young men as consumers of deodorant into three phases. In the first phase, until the mid-60s, neither advertisers nor consumers knew how men could smell. Advertising of these products was sporadic. In the second phase, around the year 1970, the idea of unisex was used to connect men to these consumer products. Finally, I claim that cultural restraints for deodorant usage disappeared in the mid-70s, and a new norm of men combining masculinity with the use of the products was established. Deodorant was understood as a hygiene product, lost its association to perfumes, and was therefore widely used both by men and women.

Short-CV: Doctoral candidate, M. Soc Sci Matleena Frisk will defend her doctoral dissertation on changing gender norms and intimately embodied consumer products such as disposable menstrual products and men’s deodorant in February 2019.  She currently works in a project Politics of reproduction, sexual health professionals and individual experiences in post-war Finland.

Elmar Gracher

Big business at hidden places - The development of small-scale sex businesses in Cologne between the 1960s and 1980s.

ABSTRACT: Since the mid-1960s, inhabitants of West German cities like Cologne, Frankfurt or Göttingen started to complain about highly visible prostitution economies. Historical studies emphasize that street prostitution was officially forbidden at this time. In the case of Cologne, the closing of two traditional districts for brothel-like room letting created a situation for prostitutes, in which they seemed to start contesting the regulation and spatial concentration of ‘sex work’ in different ways. In my talk, I will present research results from my doctoral work that focus on the intersection between prostitution, state power and spatial conditions for new practices for selling and buying sex. Examining court papers, police files, and newspaper articles using a micro-historical approach, I investigate how small-scale businesses for sex work like massage palors and sauna clubs became a popular business model among people, who started to call themselves ‘red light entrepreneurs’ since the early 1970s. My key interest is to show how third parties in the German sex trade claim urban sides and which knowledge, technologies, and social patterns they use to commodify law, sex, and ingroup loyalty in their closest social environments. The phenomenon I want to make deeper sense of is the ambivalent relationship between highly visual and ideally invisible spaces for consumable sex in world cities, which comes along with the so-called ‘liberalization of the sexual order’ of Western societies in the 20th century. This transformation of the German sex market reveals a fundamental shift in moralisation patterns: city and law officials no longer focus on visible prostitutes but rather on their exploitation by venue owners, pimps, managers, and procurers.

Short-CV: Elmar Gracher is a doctoral student in Modern and Contemporary History. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Contemporary History from the University of Cologne and a Bachelor double degree in Modern History and Economic and Social History from the Georg-August University Göttingen. He worked as student assistant at the chair of Prof. Dr. Habbo Knoch, who is also his dissertation superviser. His research interests encompass the history of sexuality and the social and cultural history of crime and criminal justice. His project aims at developing a broad historiography of Germany‘s prostitution landscape in the second half of the 20th century, with a special interest on the transformation of extra-legal governances in the context of the liberalisation and securisation of Western societies.

Mareen Heying

Sex as consumer good in the context of prostitution. The political stance of German and Italian sex workers in the 1980s and 1990s

ABSTRACT:Sex workers turn sex into a consumer product. Through their work they make it obvious that there is an economical core to sexuality which can be of a commercial character. “The prostitute is a consumer good. (…) The only tangible sign of encounter is the money (…)” as the Italian sex worker Carla Corso described the character of her work in 1992. In 1982 Corso along with her colleagues founded the committee for civil rights of prostitutes Lucciole (English: firefly) in order to gain more rights for female sex workers. The prostitute’s movement Hurenbewegung (English: whore movement) which started to form in West Germany in 1980 aimed at the same goal. One of the main purposes of Hurenbewegung and Lucciole were the social and legal recognition of prostitutes in order to improve the circumstances under which these women worked. Both groups advocated for an equal society without a power imbalance between men and women and in which women were neither disadvantaged economically nor socially and hence would trigger a change in societies’ view on sexuality. Within the scope of their political work the protagonists of both movements expressed their views on the economical character which lies within the service the prostitutes provide. Whether the prostitutes themselves should be regarded as consumer goods like Carla Corso phrased it or whether sex becomes a consumer good through the mean of prostitution will be critically questioned and analysed in the presentation.

Short-CV/AFFILIATION: Mareen Heying studied History, Gender Studies and Philosophy at the Universities of Bochum, Düsseldorf and Bologna. In March 2013, she received her Master’s degree with a thesis on the everyday life of a communist women living in Germany between 1934 and 1945, whose husband had been detained by the National Socialists. In 2017, Mareen Heying completed her PhD from the Universities of Bochum and Bologna, the topic of the dissertation was the prostitutes’ movements in Germany and Italy between 1980 and 2001. The dissertation analyses politically active sex worker in both countries as social movements. In 2018 she received the dissertation prize of the Arbeitskreis Historische Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung. Until August 2018 she was employed as lecturer at the University of Düsseldorf, she is currently preparing her Post-Doc-Project on working class districts and bar culture.

Katrin Pilz

Consuming sexual health: Viennese sex education films of the 1920s

ABSTRACT: Representatives of popular, cinematic and film-industrial circles of the 1920s tried to educate public audiences about sensible topics such as venereal diseases, reproduction, sexual hygiene, homosexuality and prostitution. The production and use of sex education films was an attempt to engage and educate the sensational topic of sex and the sensational medium of film intended to make profits though without it being commercially linked (which was regarded to be less of educational value if exclusively produced as profit producing product). This engendered a new form of consuming and experiencing knowledge about sexuality. Health propaganda films were intended to convey a broader public, instrumentalised as a medical visual marketing strategy, these popular forms of communication spawned a broader debate and higher acceptance around social issues regarding sexuality. They enabled new scientific and popular approaches that predicted a modern concept of sexuality as a consumer good, but were rarely satisfactorily resolved for all involved – from neither economic, moral nor educational perspectives. It is no coincidence that the boundaries between propaganda, educational and advertising films were fluid in this period.

In the following paper, Viennese sex education films will be considered as a possible product and service and will be analysed in the context of consumer and health-oriented structures. Further, debates on sexuality, consumption, mass media and popularizing conventions, interwoven with ideas of 'healthy' and 'sick' sexually connoted bodies, will be examined.

Short-CV: Katrin Pilz is a historian and cultural scientist. She is working on a dissertation on early medical cinematography in Brussels and Vienna as part of a joint supervision Ph.D. at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in cooperation with the University of Vienna. Lectures, publications and research projects on the visual history of medicine and science, as well as urban history, body politics and educational film history.

Raphael Reichel

'The World’s Capital of Sex' – Negotiations, Practices and Sites of Sexuality and Consumption in Pattaya, Thailand

ABSTRACT: “The world’s capital of sex” is just one of many unambiguous expressions by which the city of Pattaya, located about 80 miles south-east of Bangkok, Thailand, is being labelled not only by the media but also by locals and tourists alike. This is no surprise given the fact that a small fisher’s village developed into a metropolis with roughly half a million inhabitants in only a few decades, just by concentrating on one business model: dealing in desire, lust, and—seemingly—border- and countless ways of bodily pleasures. But Pattaya is not only a capital of sex tourism and prostitution, it is also a vibrant site of transnational networks and a local stage for global phenomena, including not only negotiations and practices of sexuality and consumption, but also of class, gender, age, and body.

This very specific, probably unique setting will be subject of the talk. Both guiding concepts of this conference—sexuality and consumption—coincide in Pattaya, but the city is not only a site where bodies are being sexualized, made available, and consumed. It is also a web of very diverse and diversified arenas, axes, quarters and infrastructures, where specific discourses, social interactions, economical dynamics and inherent logics play out. Thus, there will be a topographic dimension to the talk, attempting an ethnographic mapping of the city, understanding Pattaya as an arena where manifold formations of sexuality and consumption, e.g. sites, bodies, practices and discourses, exist and are being produced.

Short-CV: Raphael Reichel studied European Ethnology as well as German and English Literature at the University of Würzburg, where he finished his studies in 2013 with a thesis about the photographical reception of decay in print and online media. He then worked as a teaching assistant at the universities of Würzburg and Hamburg. From 2014 to 2018 he was research assistant at the Ludwig Uhland Institute for Historical and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Tübingen. In 2015 he began working on his dissertation project about male retirement migration from Germany to Thailand, which included long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Thailand.

Anat Rosenberg

Advertising Sex in Late Victorian Britain

ABSTRACT: This paper emerges from a book research which examines the cultural legal history of advertising in Britain in the age of mass consumption, c. 1848-1914. One of the book’s concerns is to recover and theorize advertising’s cultural role in this era as an invitation to fantasy, adventure, risk, and play, with their lures and dangers. We might think of these as advertising’s imaginative appeals. The paper focuses on female medicine ads, widely circulated in this era, as an entry point into the full extent of advertising's appeals, which exceeded consumerist concerns.

Female medicine ads offered medicine as relief to ladies, sometimes stopping at that, at other times referring to the medicine’s ability to remove obstructions and irregularities. On these obstinate ads (excuse the pun) converged a set of contemporary anxieties, among them a panic about the fall in birth rates and the revealed resort to birth control practices, the challenge to medical scientific authority from the expanding consumer market in patent medicines, and concerns with women’s liberation movements.

As a locus of historical action, the ads generated unbearable inversions: Female sexuality was displayed on mass media, yet to the same degree became elusive; state law forbade abortions and concurrently allowed them; elite medical professionals - who waged a war against sex-related medicine ads - drew aggressively on scientific procedures yet, far from containing sex within expertise, encouraged political debate about it; sex itself was both threatening and tempting; the consumer market flourished on desperation, but was subversive; and women’s weakness was a political force.  (And we could state each of these in reverse.)

Taking these inversions seriously, we might think of female medicine ads as a historical chamber for the avoidance of certainty*. They were a realm of imaginative experience in a radical sense; they resisted factual reduction and true/false accounts, and escaped assessments of the distributions and directions of power. In this chamber, advertising’s imaginative appeals come to light.

*I am drawing here on a Latourian metaphor used in an almost opposite sense, to be discussed.

Short-CV: I am a cultural legal historian of late modern Britain. My book, Liberalizing Contracts: Nineteenth Century Promises Through Literature, Law and History (Routledge, Discourses of Law series, 2018), examines the history of Victorian liberalism in contracts, reliant on canonical realist fiction. My current research is a study of advertising in Britain c. 1848-1914.  The research relies on a cultural theory of law, and draws on an interdisciplinary archive, to trace the role of legal powers in enacting a dual move: the mainstreaming of advertising – its legitimation and operational routinization, for the era of mass consumption; and the embedding of opprobrium – modern forms of suspicion and shame entangled with responding to advertising, and by implication, engaging in

AFFILIATION: consumption. I am a senior lecturer of law at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel, and a visitor (2017-2019) at the Faculty of History, the University of Cambridge, and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, the University of London.



Heike Steinhoff

Licentious Underworlds: The Commodification and Regulation of Sexuality in Antebellum American Popular Culture

ABSTRACT: Nineteenth-century American popular culture witnessed the rise of an increasingly publicized and sensationalized culture of commercial sexuality. A diverse number of publications brought to life an urban underworld of prostitution, contraception, abortion, and pornography or – to put it in the terminology of the time – ‘obscenity’ and ‘licentiousness’. In this paper, I will explore the body and spatial politics of a selected number of cultural texts dating from the antebellum period. Focusing on well-known as well as academically long-neglected material, I will argue that nineteenth-century urban American culture was characterized by an ambivalent biopolitical discourse that functioned to regulate and commodify sexual(ized) bodies and spaces, constructing them as both threatening and alluring. Whereas contemporary advice and reform literature was characterized by a moralizing discourse that constructed sexuality, and the sexual woman in particular, as worthy of condemnation, a growing body of popular cultural texts not only warned of but also advertized urban sexuality and ‘licentiousness’. These texts offered the reader an, often literal, guided tour through sexual underworlds and thus themselves opened up spaces for the consumption of sensational experiences.

Short-CV: Dr. Heike Steinhoff is Junior Professor of American Studies at Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. Her main areas of research are Gender Studies, Body Studies, and the study of the discursive interrelation of cities and sexualities. She is the author of Transforming Bodies: Makeovers and Monstrosities in American Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) and Queer Buccaneers: (De)Constructing Boundaries in the Pirates of the Caribbean Film Series (Lit, 2011). Moreover, she has published articles on contemporary American film and literature.