Pederasts and Others: Urban Culture and Sexual Identity in Nineteenth-Century Paris

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Examine how a community of support in Nineteenth-Century Paris became a blueprint for modern sexual identity!

A unique social history, Pederasts and Others: Urban Culture and Sexual Identity in Nineteenth-Century Paris is a valuable addition to the growing field of gay and lesbian studies. The book examines the interaction between the city's male homosexual subculture and Parisian authority figures who attempted to maintain political and social order during the early years of the French Third Republic by using laws against public indecency and sexual assault to treat same-sex sexuality as a crime. Faced with a constant cycle of surveillance, harassment, and arrest, the city's gay men survived the hostile urban environment by forming a community of support that had a widespread and lasting influence on the development of modern sexual identities.

Pederasts and Others: Urban Culture and Sexual Identity in Nineteenth-Century Paris is based on a statistical analysis of more than 800 working-class and middle-class men who were arrested or investigated by Parisian police between 1873 and 1879. Their stories, presented through long and short case studies, represent nearly 2,000 names recorded by police in “Pederasts and Others,” a ledger detailing the arrests of male homosexuals for public offenses against decency and other minor offenses. (The term “pederast” identified those suspected of same-sex sexual activity, not the modern definition that indicates homosexual relations with a minor.) The ledger entries reveal specific habits, attitudes, values, and characteristics about these men that set them apart—the same traits that identified them as part of a community based on their behavior and relationships.

Pederasts and Others: Urban Culture and Sexual Identity in Nineteenth-Century Paris examines:

  • the forces of authority
  • the laws regarding same-sex sexual behavior
  • the role of the police
  • the role of the magistrates
  • the role of the doctors
  • the common characteristics of the city's male homosexual subculture
  • the sexual behaviors of the Paris underground
  • the geography of the subculture
and takes an expanded look at three case studies:
  • “A Decadent Aristocrat and A Delinquent Boy”
  • “Pederasts, Prostitutes, and Pickpockets”
  • “Love and Death in Gay Paris”
Pederasts and Others: Urban Culture and Sexual Identity in Nineteenth-Century Paris also includes tables, appendices, and maps linked to statistical data. The book is an essential resource for historians, sociologists, sexologists, criminologists, and other scholars working in the fields of gay and lesbian studies, urban studies, social and cultural history, and French history.
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What People Are Saying

Michael L. Wilson
A MOST VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION to the history of sexuality. No previous work has so illuminated the lives of Parisian working- and middle-class men who had sexual and affective relations with other men. Peniston makes expert and sensitive use of the ledger kept by the police to track the activities of 'pederasts and others' between 1873 and 1879. He expands our understanding of the interests of the police and courts in sexual dissidence, an interest much broader and more complex than simply the enforcement of laws. More strikingly, he employs both quantitative analysis and case studies to trace the social status and social relations of men engaged in same-sex activities. This book outlines in vivid and often surprising detail the urban subculture these men created, and reveals how tightly same-sex sexuality was woven into the texture of urban life.
PhD, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas at Dallas
Roberto C. Ferrari
FASCINATING. . . . AN IMPORTANT, WELL-RESEARCHED, AND VALUABLE RESOURCE. The source of Peniston's work is a ledger kept by the Parisian police to record the activities of men who engaged in same-sex relations during the 1870s in Paris, not because homosexuality was illegal, but rather because homosexuality was believed to be both the progenitor and end-result of other forms of criminal behavior. The author draws on his wealth of knowledge of French legal, social, and sexual history to examine the ledger and its contents within the construct of same-sex sexual identities in 1870s Paris.
MA, Associate University Librarian, Florida Atlantic University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560234852
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Series: Haworth Gay and Lesbian Studies
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Part I: The Forces of Authority
The Laws
The Police
The Police in the 1870s
The Magistrates
The Doctors

Part II: The Subculture
Sexual Behavior
Social Relations

Part III: Case Studies
A Decadent Aristocrat and A Delinquent Boy
Pederasts, Prostitutes, and Pickpockets
Love and Death in Gay Paris


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