Healey 2009 Forensics

Title Information

Author: Dan Healey

Title: Bolshevik Sexual Forensics

Subtitle: Diagnosing Disorder in Clinic and Courtroom, 1917-1939

Place: DeKalb, IL

Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press

Year: 2009

Pages: x + 252pp.

ISBN-13: 9780875804057 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | Russian History | Prosecution: Forensic Medicine

Full Text


Additional Information

Author: Dan Healey, Faculty of History, University of Oxford


  Figures and Tables (p. vii)
  Acknowledgments (p. ix)
  Introduction: Bolshevik Medicine and Russia’s “Sexual Revolution” (p. 3)
    Looking for a Sexual Revolution (p. 12)
    Notes on Conventions (p. 16)
  One: Soviet Doctors and Bolshevik Justice (p. 17)
    Making Russia‘s Forensic Medicine “Soviet” (p. 18)
    Bolshevik Frameworks for Legal Medicine (p. 28)
    Forensic Medical Teaching and Research (p. 33)
  Two: Sexual Maturity and the Threshold of Sexual Citizenship (p. 37)
    Sexual Maturity in the Clinic (p. 42)
    The Desiring Victim and the “Wrapper of Virginity” (p. 51)
    Sexual Maturity in the Criminal Investigation (p. 60)
    The Ambiguities of Female Innocence (p. 65)
    The Simplicitiy of Male Sexuality (p. 78)
    Conclusion (p. 80)
  Three: Soviet Medicine and Rape as a Crime of Everyday Life (p. 83)
    Legal and Medical Routines (p. 85)
    “Did Copulation Really Occur in This Instance?” (p. 87)
    “Now I am a Lost Person” (p. 90)
    “Citizen Repkina Has Been Living a Sexual Life for a Long Time” (p. 97)
    Conclusion (p. 102)
  Four: Doctors of the Mind and Sex Crime (p. 104)
    Bringing the Psychiatrist Inside (p. 108)
    Who Commissioned Psychiatric Expertise–and Why? (p. 112)
    Medical and Moral Diagnosis (p. 122)
    The Taint of Sexualized Language (p. 126)
    Conclusion (p. 129)
  Five: Bodies in Search of a Sex (p. 134)
    Russian Perspectives on the Hermaphrodite (p. 137)
    The Revolution and the Hermaphrodite (p. 139)
    Encounters in the Clinic (p. 142)
    “More Modern“ Soviet Therapy (p. 149)
    “We Must First Decide If These Persons Can Be Men” (p. 152)
    Conclusion (p. 156)
  Conclusion: Reflections on the Fate of a Sexual Revolution (p. 159)
  Notes (p. 173)
  Bibliography (p. 231)
    Primary Sources (p. 231)
      Archives (p. 231)
      Published Essays and Books (p. 231)
      Published Case Histories of Hermaphrodites, Used in Database (p. 238)
    Secondary Sources (p. 239)
  Index (p. 249)


»In an effort to modernize criminal and civil investigations, early Bolsheviks gave forensic doctors—most of whom had been trained under the tsarist regime—new authority over issues of sexuality. Revolutionaries believed that forensic medicine could provide scientific and objective solutions to sexual disorder in the new society. Bolshevik Sexual Forensics explores the institutional history of Russian and Soviet forensic medicine and examines the effects of its authority when confronting sexual disorder. Healey compares sex crime investigations from Petrograd and Sverdlovsk in the 1920s to the numerous publications by forensic doctors and psychiatrists of the prerevolutionary and early Soviet periods to illustrate the role that these specialists played. In addition, Healey presents a fascinating look at how doctors diagnosed and treated hermaphroditism, showing how Soviet physicians revolutionized the standard scientific view in these cases by taking into account individual desire.
This study sheds light on unexplored radical and reactionary forces that shaped the Bolshevik “sexual revolution” as lawmakers defined new ways of seeing sexual crime and disorder. Forensic doctors struggled to interpret the replacement of the age of consent with a standard of “sexual maturity,” a designation that made female sexuality a collective “resource,” not part of an individual’s personality. “Innocence,” “experience,” and virginity played a major role in the expertise doctors furnished in rape and abuse trials. Psychiatrists recoiled from the language of sexual psychology in their investigations of sex criminals. Yet in the clinic, Soviet physicians probed the desires of the two-sexed citizen, whose psychology served as the basis for a distinctly modern approach to the “erasure” of the hermaphrodite.
»Healey concludes that the vision of men and women as equals after a “sexual revolution” was undermined from the outset of the Soviet experiment. Law and medicine failed to protect women and girls from violence, and Soviet medicine’s physiological and biological model of sexual citizenship erased the vision of sexual self-expression, especially for women. This groundbreaking study will appeal to Soviet historians and those interested in gender studies, sexuality, medicine, and forensics. (Source: Northern Illinois University)

Interview: Schoen, Johanna. »Bolshevik Sexual Forensics: Diagnosing Disorder in the Clinic and Courtroom, 1917-1939.« New Books in Gender Studies (2012).


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Added: August 2, 2014 | Last updated: August 2, 2014