In his new book “Abuses of the Erotic: Militarizing Sexuality in the Post-Cold War United States,” Western Washington University Associate Professor of History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Josh Cerretti investigates how military values have permeated civilian culture and the connections between sexuality and militarism in the United States.
Cerretti’s book explores the events that took place from 1989-2001 spanning from the end of the Cold War to the beginning of the War on Terror.
“I came to see that what was really missing in the way that people had been engaging in the conversation about sex and sexuality was not a lot of people were talking about the 1990s,” Cerretti added.
“Working through that contrast, the way the U.S. government said our military was going to go to Haiti or Iraq to prevent sexual violence, whereas at the same time, we’re seeing that they’re actually some of the most serious perpetrators,” Cerretti said.
Focusing his research on published documents, Cerretti drew most of his information from news media, newspapers, and government documents, as well as information from pop culture, with an emphasis on military intervention in the Middle East and Latin America. His research even led him to Connecticut to visit the Beinecke Library at Yale University to look at the Larry Kramer Papers, a collection of documents related to the life of the famous AIDS activist.
“After the dissertation was finished and before the book was published, I also did a significant amount of research on the U.S. Nuclear Test Program in the Marshall Islands which is featured heavily in the fourth chapter,” Cerretti said.
Looking forward, Cerretti said he remains interested in the ways that sexuality is constructed in the modern United States.
“I’m thinking about another project about sexuality, knowledge, and power in the recent United States – about the HIV/AIDS Crisis, the Right to Life Movement, and sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as some other topics,” Cerretti said.
Cerretti’s book is available through the University of Nebraska Press at https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/university-of-nebraska-press/9781496205568/.
Cerretti received his doctorate in Global Gender Studies at the University of Buffalo in 2014, and has taught History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Western since then. For more information about “Abuses of the Erotic: Militarizing Sexuality in the Post-Cold War United States,” contact Josh Cerretti at (360) 650-6416 or firstname.lastname@example.org.