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social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

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Switzerland  
 
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Bonstetten's best-known work is The Man of the North and the Man of the South; or the Influence of Climate (L'Homme du Midi et L'Homme du Nord, ou L'influence du Climat, 1824), an anthropological study of the influence of climate on human development.

Bonstetten went on to become the presumed lover of the Swiss historian and public official Johannes von Müller (1752-1809). Several love letters between Bonstetten and Müller have survived.

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Müller spent much of his life in Germany, where he held political posts under the prince-elector of Mainz, the king of Prussia, and King Jérôme Bonaparte of Westphalia. His five-volume history of Switzerland, published between 1786 and 1808, was greatly acclaimed during his lifetime as the definitive account of Swiss history.

The Swiss anthologist, milliner, and interior designer Heinrich Hössli (1784-1864), is the author of Eros, a two-volume defense of love between men that appeared in 1836 and 1838. They were the first books to appear in modern Europe to publicly defend same-sex desire.

Hössli argued that male-male sexuality is as natural as a man's love for a woman, and that the proclivity toward same-sex love is inborn. Drawing on Greek classics and poetry from Turkey, Persia, and Arabia, he argued that same-sex desire is universal and urged the repeal of legal prohibitions against homosexual activity.

In his own time, the volumes garnered no critical recognition or popularity. They were not reprinted in their entirety until 1996.

The widely-traveled Swiss writer and photojournalist Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908-1942) wrote about same-sex desire and documented the social and economic upheavals of her time. She was born into a world of privilege as the daughter of one of Switzerland's wealthiest textile industrialists.

Although married in 1935 to the French diplomat Claude Clarac, who was also homosexual, Schwarzenbach was romantically involved with several women, beginning with Erika Mann, the daughter of novelist Thomas Mann, whom she met in 1930.

She teamed up personally and professionally with the American photographer Barbara Hamilton-Wright in 1937. The two women traveled through a Depression-stricken United States, which resulted in a series of articles for the European press on America's race and class relations, illustrated by Hamilton-Wright's photographs.

In 1940, while back in the United States, Schwarzenbach entered into a self-destructive affair with the wealthy émigrée Margo von Opel. During this time, she also met the writer Carson McCullers, who fell hopelessly (and unrequitedly) in love with her. When her relationship with Opel ended badly, Schwarzenbach attempted suicide and McCullers nursed her back to health.

Schwarzenbach began writing fiction while at the University of Zurich, which she entered in 1927. She published her first novel Friends of Bernhard (Freunde um Bernhard), which had a gay male protagonist, in 1931. In 1933, her Lyric Novella (Lyrische Novelle) was published as a heterosexual romance, but she later acknowledged that the story had been based on one of her lesbian relationships: "The twenty-year-old hero is not a hero, not a boy, but a girl--that should have been admitted," she wrote several years later.

In 1935 she wrote Death in Persia (Tod in Persien), not published until 1998, an autobiographical novel that she later reworked into The Happy Valley (Das Glückliche Tal, 1940), a mixture of travel writing, autobiography, and critical commentary.

In 1941 she began work on a new novel, but died a year later of head injuries sustained in a bicycle accident.

Schwarzenbach's works were rediscovered and republished in the 1980s.

The Swiss-born lesbian artist Sonja Sekula (1918-1963) created a varied and distinctive body of small-scale abstract images.

In 1935, at the age of seventeen, she met and fell deeply in love with Annemarie Schwarzenbach, but their relationship was cut short a year later when Sekula's father abruptly decided to move the family to New York.

Sekula studied art at Sarah Lawrence College and at the Art Students' League, and exhibited her works at New York's Peggy Guggenheim and Betty Parsons galleries in the 1940s and 1950s.

Sekula suffered several nervous breakdowns and periods of confinement in sanitariums throughout her life. She made her first attempt at suicide in 1938. In 1963, at the age of 45, she hanged herself in her studio in Zurich.

Following her death, her work was largely forgotten until 1971, when Finch College in Manhattan held a small exhibition of some of the most important paintings of her New York years. Sekula is now regarded in her native Switzerland as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, although her work is still not widely known elsewhere.

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