“The Hirschfeld Archives: Violence, Death, and Modern Queer Culture” by Heike Bauer— Violence and Queer Culture

Bauer, Heike. “The Hirschfeld Archives: Violence, Death, and Modern Queer Culture”, (Sexuality Studies), Temple University Press, 2017.

Violence and Queer Culture

Amos Lassen

Magnus Hirschfeld, the influential sexologist and activist, founded Berlin’s Institute of Sexual Sciences in 1919 as a home and workplace to study homosexual rights activism and support transgender people. The Nazis destroyed it in 1933 and now Heike Bauer asks if violence is an intrinsic part of modern queer culture. That question is answered here through the examination of violence which has shaped queer existence in the first part of the twentieth century. Hirschfeld, himself, managed to escape the Nazis and many of his papers and publications survived. Bauer examines Hirschfield’s accounts of same-sex life through his published and unpublished writings, as well as books, articles, diaries, films, photographs and other visual materials. Bauer then shows how violence (including persecution, death and suicide) shaped the development of homosexual rights and political activism. The Hirschfeld Archives reveal many unknown and interesting accounts of LGBTQ life in the early twentieth century and we see that the rights of homosexuals were politically haunted from the beginning by racism, colonial brutality, and gender violence.

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