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While historical self-testimonies of trans* people in Austria in the early 20th century are largely absent from the archival records or are deeply distorted through the violence of the sexological discourses inciting them in the first place, newspaper articles about “sex changes” were numerous. But they were brimming with another, rather unlikely object when thinking about trans* histories: rats. These rodents were the favorite test animals of Austrian endocrinologist Eugen Steinach whose experiments with glandular transplantations established the medical possibilities of “rejuvenation” as well as “artificial sex change.” 

This presentation traces the zigzagging tracks of rats through Steinach's archives to ask what knowledge about gender and its mutability was produced through these nonhuman bodies, what (almost) human bodies the animals symbolically stood for, and what silenced histories, repressed entanglements, and residues affecting the present emerge at the edges of the archives when we stop trying to read the archives for its lost subjects and instead follow the rats. 

Jonah I. Garde (they/them) is a PhD student at Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Studies at the University of Bern, Switzerland and currently a Visiting Research Student at the University of Victoria, Canada. For their PhD project focusing on trans* histories, archives, and the global entanglements of European modernity Jonah has received a Rosa-Luxemburg Doctoral Grant (2018-2021) and a Doc.Mobility Scholarship (2021). Jonah’s recent publications include Provincializing Trans* Modernities (2021) and together with Simon Harder Trans*formative Pädagogiken. Ein Gespräch (2021).  

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but advance registration is required.