Horizontal Wretches: Venereal Disease, Prostitution and Sexuality in Peru, c.1850-1950.


Current Research: Paulo Drinot

The study of venereal disease, prostitution, and sexuality is well established in Latin American history but the literature on Peru is scant. My research, which has received funding from the Wellcome Trust and the British Academy, seeks to make an original contribution to this historiography and expand upon it by exploring how both the societal experience, and scientific and non-scientific understandings, of venereal disease, prostitution, and sexuality at once reflected and in turn helped constitute ideas about public health, morality and nation as well as gender, race, and class. Drawing on a wide and varied range of primary sources, this research aims to answer a series of interrelated questions: How was venereal disease represented and understood in scientific and non-scientific discourse in Peru in the period c.1850-1950? What policies did the Peruvian state develop to address venereal disease and prostitution? To what extent did discourses on venereal disease and policies towards prostitution shape, or indeed reflect, sexual practices and sexuality itself in Peruvian society? More generally, my research explores what the interplay of venereal disease, prostitution, and sexuality can tell us about the relationship between medical knowledge, public health policy and social and cultural change in Peru in the period 1850-1950.

Editors Note: This is an archived blog post from 24/10/2009


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