Title

Sex in the Archives: Homosexuality, Prostitution, and the Archives de la Prefecture de Police de Paris

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2017

Department

History

Abstract

The Archives de la Prefecture de Police de Paris have served as an important source base for historians of both female prostitution and male homosexuality during the nineteenth century. Although the archives often place these two forms of sexual marginality in the same series, cartons, and dossiers, historians have almost always treated the two as distinct social categories. This article argues that this separation results from an overreliance on the modern sexual identity categories that serve as our point of departure. Instead, we should approach the archive without identifying with it in order to formulate a vision of the sexual past that may or may not reflect our own sexual organization. In dialogue with a broader discourse that conflated male same-sex sexual activity with female prostitution, these archives participate in the production of a sexual category that has as much to do with the selling of sex as it does with same-sex sexual desire.

Publication Title

French Historical Studies

Volume

40

Issue

2

First Page

267

Last Page

290

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