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On the power of seeing and making visible female sexuality: intersections between American gynecology and Brazilian forensic sexology

Grant number: 21/14367-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2022
Effective date (End): November 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology
Principal Investigator:Lilia Katri Moritz Schwarcz
Grantee:Larissa Nadai
Supervisor: Ann Laura Stoler
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: New School for Social Research, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:18/26728-4 - Which bodies for which techniques: from himenolatry to specialists in forensic sexology, BP.PD

Abstract

The present project, to be conducted at The New School for Social Research (NSSR), in New York City, USA, under the supervision of Dr. Ann Laura Stoler, will take place in the context of my current post-doctoral research, which seeks to reconstruct the connections between gender, sexuality, class, and race that underpin forensic sexology at the beginning of the twentieth century in Brazil. It is interesting to highlight the surprising centrality that the hymen gained in this disciplinary field, erecting itself as a diacritical element for the verification of rape as a crime. As proposed in the original project, the internship in the United States aims to trace the under-explored routes and connections between the teachings of forensic sexology, centered on the hymen, and the scrutiny undertaken on the female body by gynecology and obstetrics, in the American context. By contrasting these distinct fields of knowledge, I intend to identify intersections and shed light on the similarities of these techniques of knowledge, based on penetrating, unveiling, searching certain bodies whose intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality are fundamental. To this end, I focus my research on different collections of American gynecology and obstetrics. Mainly, those concerned with the medical practices developed by James Marion Sims (1835-1884), popularly known as the "father of modern gynecology". His fame and renown have as substratum perverse gynecological techniques - reparative surgeries, hymenotomies, ovarian splits - undertaken, above all, on the bodies of enslaved and immigrant women, throughout the 19th century, including in renowned hospitals such as the Columbia Women's Hospital in New York. In addition, this project seeks to foster intellectual and academic exchange between American and Brazilian anthropological traditions, thinking about the articulations between race, sexuality, slavery and governance, from a comparative perspective. (AU)

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