At the turn of the twentieth century, a series of troublesome encounters unfolded between several French colonial medical doctors and gender-variant, male-bodied persons (sarimbavy in Malagasy). Medico-ethnographic texts were published in academic journals in the French metropole based upon these doctor-sarimbavy interactions. This article reveals how sarimbavy were situated within the biopolitics of colonial penal, labor, and medical infrastructures in Madagascar. Additionally, by following the bibliographic trail of the sarimbavy figure in documents published in England and the United States, this article exposes how initial encounters in the colony were entextualized and deployed as evidence for sexological arguments in Europe and North America. Throughout, sarimbavy were read variously as asexual and sexual, as externally perverted and internally inverted, as artistic, degenerate, and ill. The ways in which the spectral figure of the sarimbavy moved across multiple empires highlights the colonial impulse at the heart of the Euro-American endeavor to further sexological theory.

You do not currently have access to this content.