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Publication Detail
Necrophilia, Psychiatry, and Sexology: The Making of Sexual Science in Mid-Twentieth Century Peru
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Drinot P
  • Publisher:
    Oxford University Press (OUP)
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Journal of Social History
  • Article number:
  • Status:
  • Language:
  • Notes:
    © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial reproduction and distribution of the work, in any medium, provided the original work is not altered or transformed in any way, and that the work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com
In this article, I draw on two sets of sources to explore how Peruvian doctors tried to make sense of what had driven a man to engage in necrophilia in late 1942. On the one hand, I examine the case history and other related documentation that I located in Lima’s psychiatric hospital. On the other, I study a detailed article written on the case by Dr Lucio D. Castro and published in 1943. Together, these sources provide rich evidence on how Peruvian doctors addressed what they framed as an abnormality of the sexual instinct and, in turn, as a mental disorder. But the case also provides a fascinating vista on a major taboo—sex with the dead—and more generally on the history of “perversion” and therefore on the history of sexuality in Peru. I pay particular attention to how doctors mobilized an eclectic “theoretical artillery” of biomedical knowledge in trying to explain the man’s psychopathology. I argue that through their “unruly appropriation” of sexological knowledge, doctors like Castro sought to make meaningful contributions to a global sexual science while proposing means to channel sexuality away from deviant forms in a manner consonant with broader projects of sexual regulation that Peru and other countries promoted at the time.
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