Publication details

Sexological Spring? The 1968 International Gathering of Sexologists in Prague as a Turning Point


LIŠKOVÁ Kateřina

Year of publication 2018
Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

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Description How is science shaped by the time and place it originates from? Did Cold War science, and particularly that formulated in the totalitarian East, conform to the demands of an omnipotent state? Is it possible to think about knowledge without the interference of its social surroundings? What better situation to seek answers to these questions than a gathering of scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain? This chapter analyzes exactly such a meeting, the conference "Symposium sexuologicum pragense" which took place in 1968, as a case study. I show how the understanding of the etiology of sexual pathologies diverged between the Eastern and Western sexologists and how it subsequently changed in Czechoslovakia. How political regimes (and broader social conditions) shape but do not overdetermine the science that is produced in them. Science during the Cold War East was not any more afflicted with the regime's "ideology" than its Western counterpart; they were both products of their respective conditions of possibility. The lesson we can draw from the meeting of two sexologies, the Eastern and Western, is that while the life sciences of the Cold War East were not "Westernized", understood as conforming to Western concepts and modes of knowing, they were definitely globalized – meaning a science discussed across national borders, various cultural traditions and political emphases.
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