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Bolshevik Sexual Forensics
Diagnosing Disorder in the Clinic and Courtroom, 1917–1939
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“A meticulously researched, well-written and consistently interesting work … virtually the first to engage in ‘grass roots’ research, looking at unpublished court documents to determine how notions of sexuality were applied in courts dealing with sex crimes.”—Eric Naiman, University of California, Berkeley
“Healey effectively highlights the study of the forensic and psychiatric professions and their involvement in cases of sexual crime and deviance.”—Sharon A. Kowalsky, Texas A&M University-Commerce
In an effort to modernize criminal and civil investigations, early Bolsheviks gave forensic doctors—most of whom had been trained under the tsarist regime—new authority over issues of sexuality. Revolutionaries believed that forensic medicine could provide scientific and objective solutions to sexual disorder in the new society. Bolshevik Sexual Forensics explores the institutional history of Russian and Soviet forensic medicine and examines the effects of its authority when confronting sexual disorder. Healey compares sex crime investigations from Petrograd and Sverdlovsk in the 1920s to the numerous publications by forensic doctors and psychiatrists of the prerevolutionary and early Soviet periods to illustrate the role that these specialists played. In addition, Healey presents a fascinating look at how doctors diagnosed and treated hermaphroditism, showing how Soviet physicians revolutionized the standard scientific view in these cases by taking into account individual desire.
(2009) 262 pp., 7 illus.
Dan Healey is a reader in the Department of History, Swansea University (Wales, UK). He is the author of Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent and articles on the history of gender, sexuality, and medicine in Russia.
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