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Making love, making gender, making babies in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s

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By the end of the twentieth century, a combination of profound social changes and major techno-scientific innovations had reorganized ‘the sexual field’ into three separate systems. The early twentieth century distinction between sexual pleasure and reproduction was supplemented by one between biological ‘sex’ and social ‘gender’, in which the figures of ‘the transsexual’ and ‘transgender’ were central, with the category of ‘gender’ eventually peeling off to have an entirely different historical destiny. While the phrase ‘Sexual Revolution’ once evoked changes in sexual mores and contraceptive practices of the 1960s and after, this ‘revolution’ may have been part of a larger reconfiguration of the pleasure-, gender- and reproductive-systems – the last of which became an autonomous medical industry assisting reproduction by the end of the century. This conference will allow a comparison of the political and ethical debates over medical and cultural innovations in ‘sex’, ‘gender’ and ‘reproduction’ over the period 1950-1970.

This talk is part of the CRASSH series.

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