Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft e.V. Forschungsstelle zur Geschichte der Sexualwissenschaft

Centre for Research on the History of Sexual Science

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View from the outside - 2022

The Society was founded in 1982 in West Berlin on the occasion of the approaching fiftieth anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Institute for Sexual Science.
The Magnus Hirschfeld Gesellschaft sees its tasks as the following:

  • to study the history of research on sexuality and gender (anthropology, womens’ studies, etc.) and of the sexual reform movement, as well as of related scholarly disciplines and life reform movements.
  • to help establish research on sexuality and gender within academic institutions.

In order to realize these goals, the Magnus Hirschfeld Gesellschaft established a centre for research on the history of sexual science in 1992.

The Magnus Hirschfeld Gesellschaft’s Centre for Research cooperates with local, national and international scholarly institutions and organizations.
The Centre’s work is financed by membership dues and donations. The Centre’s collaborators also include associated colleagues, scholars, students and doctoral candidates from Germany and abroad.
We make the results of our work available to both the specialist and broader public in the Society’s Bulletin (Mitteilungen der Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft), publications series, articles and books, as well as in exhibitions, and lectures and seminars at universities and adult education institutions.
The Centre’s work is based on research using archival, printed and oral history sources to study the emergence and development of sexual science, gender studies and the reform related movements within their scientific, social and cultural contexts. Our staff members’ specific research projects take place within this general framework, which encompasses

  • the social, scholarly and political discussions that led to the emergence of sexual science, as well as the ways in which the subjection of sexualities to scientific scrutiny and systematization affected the objects of study;
  • the construction of sex/gender as a prerequisite for the scholarly preoccupation with sexualities;
  • the organizational history of professional and lay sexological associations as well as the publication history of sexological periodicals and books and their contemporary reception;
  • the reconstruction of the work of the world’s first sexological institution, the Institute for Sexual Science (1919-1933) and the assessment of its place within scholarly and cultural history. Research is underway on the persons who worked, stayed at and visited the Institute, the theoretical orientations of members and their application in scientific and political practice;
  • the contributions of Magnus Hirschfeld and the Institute’s staff to the development of sexological theory and its application in scholarship, forensic research and campaigns for sexual reform.