Date of Degree

5-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

History

Advisor(s)

Dagmar Herzog

Committee Members

Benjamin Hett

Julia Sneeringer

Judith Surkis

Subject Categories

Cultural History | European History

Keywords

Homosexuality, Politics, Race, Islam, HIV/AIDS, Sex Tourism

Abstract

This dissertation argues that the current artificial dichotomy between European and Islamic sexual mores is rooted in competing impulses in German homosexual rights movements to seek solidarity with communities of color while simultaneously exoticizing their members. Interdisciplinary scholars of contemporary Europe have examined the many ways in which white Europeans have imagined Islam as inherently homophobic and misogynistic, rendering it incompatible with Western Europe's purported commitment to LGBT rights. My research historicizes this work by showing how, in the struggle against legal persecution and discrimination, homosexual West Germans turned to anti-racism as a political tool while simultaneously seeking out "exotic" pleasures in the decolonizing world. However, in the wake of decolonization and the Iranian revolution, some gay men and lesbians began to make sense of anti-gay persecution abroad and homophobic violence at home in terms of a racialized Islam. Nevertheless, certain historical moments, including the radical turn of the early 1970s and intergroup organizing against AIDS-related government repression in the late 1980s, held moments of possibility for building solidarity that undermined German racial conventions. Although conceptions of Islam as antagonistic to homosexuality emerged by the late 1970s, the necessity for solidarity with immigrant groups during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s meant that such assumptions were not applied to Muslims in Germany until the 1990s. I document these contradictions while emphasizing the broader international processes that influenced homosexual rights activism after the collapse of Nazism.

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