Per Scientiam ad Justitiam: Magnus Hirschfeld's Episteme of Biological Publicity
Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science was founded in Berlin in 1919 as a place of research, political advocacy, counseling, and public education. Inspired by the world’s first gay rights organizations, it was closely allied with other groups fighting for sexual reform and women’s rights, and was destroyed in 1933 as the first target of the Nazi book burnings. Not Straight from Germany examines the legacy of that history, combining essays and a lavish array of visual materials. Scholarly essays investigate the ways in which sex became public in early 20th-century Germany, contributing to a growing awareness of Hirschfeld’s influence on histories of sexuality while also widening the perspective beyond the lens of identity politics. Two visual sourcebooks and catalog essays on an exhibition of contemporary artists’ responses to the Hirschfeld historical materials interrogate the modes of visual representation that Hirschfeld employed by re-imagining the public visibility of his institute from a contemporary perspective. The archival material includes stunning, never-before-published images from Hirschfeld’s institute that challenge many received ideas, while the scholarly and art catalog essays explore collaboration and dialogue as methods of research and activism that resonate beyond the academy to pressing issues of public concern.
This chapter is a part of Not Straight from Germany: Sexual Publics and Sexual Citizenship Since Magnus Hirschfeld. University of Michigan Press, 2017. doi: 10.3998/mpub.9238370. Posted with permission.