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Scientific Racism and the Invention of the Homosexual Body

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maite laurient

on 19 March 2014

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Transcript of Scientific Racism and the Invention of the Homosexual Body


Somerville makes a link between race and sexuality which suggests that homosexuality and one's sexual identity stems from racialism and the issues of race that were addressed in the late 19th century between white and black bodies.
In the Chapter, "Scientific Racism and the Invension of the Sexual Body" of the book "Queering the Colored Line", Somerville demonstrates different categorizations pertaining to race in the 19th century. For instance that females were inferior to men, or that whites were superior to blacks. The author provides a link between difference in color with difference in sex.
Due to dissimilarities in race, and sexuality, Somerville explains how a scientific discourse and understanding became necessary for society to understand differences in people. It was important for society to be aware and put in place what was "normal" and what was "abnormal". This began with race and was further influenced in sexuality.
Categorizing race and the racialism that occured was all in order to better organize and control bodies. Was sexual identity and the need to associate oneself with a particular sexual orientation not only influenced by racism but was it also simply a means to better classify bodies based on sexuality in addition to race?
Question 2
Societies seek out various ways in order to understand bodies and better classify them. We see this when it comes to religion, race, and sexuality. When attempting to organize bodies, is this just society's way of finding a group to discriminate?
Scientific Racism and the Invention of the Homosexual Body


Question 1
Somerville suggests that, "the structures and methodologies that drove dominant ideologies of race also fueled the pursuit of scientific knowledge about the homosexual body: both sympathetic and hostile accounts of homosexuality were steeped in assumptions that had driven previous scientific studies of race" (6).
The author's aim, "is not to replace a focus on gender and sexuality with that of race but, rather, to understand how discourses of race and gender buttressed one another, often competing, often overlapping, in shaping emerging models of homosexuality" (6).
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