Normalizing the Deviant: Mexican Sexology and Homosexuality, 1860–1960

Monday, January 5, 2015: 8:50 AM
Sutton Center (New York Hilton)
Ryan Jones, State University of New York at Geneseo
Most attention to the development of sexology as an influential, yet loosely-defined discipline has focused on the role that prominent European and American schools of thought have had in shaping ideas of sexuality, deviance, identity, and crime. However, while sexology has been most prominently expressed in Europe and the United States, other regions have also served as important nodes for the development, transmission, and translation of sexological ideas. One of the most important in Latin America was Mexico City, which not only housed numerous local scholars interested in criminology, criminal anthropology, psychology, and medical forensics—all of which incorporate sexology within their purview, ideologies, and methods—but also a well-developed publishing industry to disseminate their ideas locally, regionally, and abroad. Indeed, rather than passive recipients of foreign scholarship, Mexicans developed their own version of sexology that was marked by its eclectic nature and its inclusion of often widely competing and contradictory ideas as part of a ideological whole. Mexican sexology, then, mirrored the political transformation of the country in which the Partido Revolucionario Institucional created a broad-based coalition of competing forces all under the umbrella of “Mexicanidad.” This paper will explore in brief a few key trends in Mexican sexology from 1880-1960: the reception and role of medical forensics, criminal anthropology, and the law in shaping Mexican sexology and its practical application; the importance of the Mexico City node in transmitting and shaping regional discourses (that included especially Cuban and Peruvian thought on sexuality); and the influence on a global scale of Mexican “solutions” for the homosexual problem, particularly the prison conjugal visit and sex-reassignment surgery.