History, Intersexuality, and Social Power


Some presentations of the history of leprosy can be seen as paradigmatic stories of how the knowledge of leprosy has been constituted in a historical process.Conflicts in the daily lives of leprosy patients have arisen as a result of two basically opposing stories. One emphasizes the continuity between leprosy in modern life with its existence in an ancient past. The other emphasizes the historical breaking points. These conflicting stories have different repercussions as to which form of knowledge of leprosy is produced or reproduced. Power over the knowledge about leprosy is maintained by people that become accomplices in these stories. This article demonstrates how a Greek woman who suffers from leprosy incorporates her interpretations on history with her self-understanding. The analysis shows she transforms the painful history into an embodied force using intertextual strategies. Two theoretical frameworks, folkloristic text analysis and discourse analysis in a Foucaultian sense, provide its points of departure. The conclusion points to some of the consequences of a linkage between these two frameworks and shows that the intertextual strategies of leprosy patients can be connected to each. This assumes that intertextuality can be viewed on two analytical levels. One level concerns the strategic intertextual constructs of the leprosy sufferers. The other concerns the contexts of meaning in which these constructs are a part.

How to Cite

Drakos, G., (1999) “History, Intersexuality, and Social Power”, Ethnologia Europaea 29(1), 41-48. doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/ee.893

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Georg Drakos (Stockholm University)



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