Genealogies of Identity: Interdisciplinary Readings of Sex and Sexuality consists of fifteen essays, versions of which were presented at the First Global Conference on Critical Issues in Sexuality, held in Salzburg, Austria, in October 2004. As its title suggests, this volume interrogates historically mediated narratives of the linkages among gender, sex, sexuality, and identity. The selected essays represent a variety of disciplinary approaches, including those of art history, cultural studies, government, history, human resource management, literature, social work, sociology, and theatre studies.
The volume's first section, “History, Sex, and Nation,” is made up of four essays (the first two focusing on the nineteenth century and early twentieth century and the second two on the mid-to-late twentieth century) that analyse how discourses of “nation” construct and regulate gender, sex, and sexuality. The section begins with Robert D. Tobin's “Kertbeny's 'Homosexuality' and the Language of Nationalism,” which considers the linkages between Karl Maria Kertbeny's participation in the Hungarian nationalist movement and his contributions to sexology. Born into a German family in the 1820s, Kertbeny was a member of the Hungarian expatriate community. Coining the term “homosexuality” in 1869, Kertbeny understood homosexuality in terms “not so much “of” the body as “of” a shared taste and aesthetic.” This definition parallels the Hungarian nationalism of the nineteenth century, which “was not based in biology and race so much as in language in culture.”
Following Tobin's essay is Julia Bruggemann's “Prostitution, Sexuality, and Gender Roles in Imperial Germany: Hamburg, A Case Study.” This piece examines regulated prostitution in Hamburg between the unification of Germany and the start of World War I. During this time prostitution sparked heated public debates, which in turn became sites for the constitution and containment of female sexuality.
The third essay, Susanne Dodillet's “Cultural Clash on Prostitution: Debates on Prostitution in Germany and Sweden in the 1990s,” sustains this focus on women and prostitution. Dodillet offers readers a comparative study of prostitution. Shifting attention from the early German state to the contemporary one, the paper contrasts Germany's definitions, state policies, and legislation of prostitution with Sweden's. Whereas Germany has consistently defined prostitution as an economic exchange, Sweden has understood it to be an act of female exploitation. This sharp distinction in definition has led to very different social and legislative responses to sex work. In Sweden, prostitutes are understood to be operating within a sexist “and heterosexist” system . . .