“Forms So Attenuated That They Merge into Normality Itself”: Alexander Lipschütz, Gregorio Marañón, and Theories of Intersexuality in Chile, c. 1930

Monday, January 5, 2015: 11:00 AM
Nassau Suite B (New York Hilton)
Kurt MacMillan, University of California, Irvine
This paper examines the history of a clinical case study of intersexuality in a woman from Valparaíso, Chile that first appeared in the Chilean medical community in the early 1930s. Crucial to the emergence of this case was the circulation and reception of the work of Gregorio Marañón in Chile during this period. Marañón was a renowned Spanish clinician and intellectual who reached the apex of his scientific influence in the late 1920s for his account of “intersexual conditions” in humans. For the doctors treating the woman in Valparaíso, the issue of determining her “true sex” was part of a larger project to identify and document Marañón’s intersexual types in the Chilean populace while modernizing the sexual politics of the state according to scientific principles. Marañón’s formulation of his concept of intersexuality and its clinical application and political appropriation in Chile were each facilitated by the work of the Latvian-Chilean physiologist Alexander Lipschütz, who served as a distinguished faculty member at the University of Concepción in southern Chile from 1926 to 1936. Prior to immigrating to Chile, Lipschütz had built a distinguished career in the study of sexual physiology at universities and institutes across Central and Eastern Europe, including collaborations with leading figures in sexual science such as Eugen Steinach and Magnus Hirschfeld. Lipschütz’s implantation at the University of Concepción connected Chile to transnational networks of sexual science that created the epistemological conditions of possibility for the woman in Valparaíso to be treated as a case of intersexuality, the results of which shaped Marañón’s work in Spain. As a study of transnational networks in sexual science during the first half of the twentieth century, this paper reveals multidirectional flows of knowledge between Latin America and Europe rather than trans-regional relationships based merely on diffusion.
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