Portugal on the periphery? Scenarios from the History of Sexuality, 1900-1960

Richard Cleminson (Leeds)
10 March 2015

Within the History of Sexuality, Portugal rarely gets a mention. This may be in a part to what the sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos called its semi-peripheral geo-political position in western Europe, Anglo-American scholars' lack of familiarity with the Portuguese language or a general lack of prominence in social and political history of Iberia as a whole. 

This paper aims to illustrate how research on the history of sexuality in Portugal is worthwhile not only for a broader history of this country but what for it may tell us about the broader history of European sexualities, sexology and sexual knowledge. Two principle subject areas will be focused on. First, more briefly, the sexological work of Nobel Prize winner Egas Moniz, whose frequently revised volume A Vida Sexual (first edition 1901) was one of the principle works of Portuguese sexual science. Specifically, Egas' understandings of male and female homosexuality will be analysed. Second, the paper will analyse some questions pertaining to the reception of eugenics in Portugal, its relation with the Salazar New State in the 1920s and 1930s and the discussions within eugenics of the question of 'race', particularly in the contect of the Portguese colonies. 

Geographical area: