Pablo Ben

Pablo Ben

Associate Professor and Department Chair
Office: AL 523
Phone: (619) 594-2557 (Email preferred) 
Email: [email protected]


Ph.D., Latin American History, University of Chicago (2009)

M.A., Latin American History, University of Chicago (2002)

Licenciatura, Anthropology, Universidad de Buenos Aires (2001)

Originally from Argentina, where he studied Anthropology at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pablo Ben holds a Ph.D. in Latin American History from the University of Chicago. His research focuses on the history of sexuality from the late-nineteenth to the twenty-first century in Argentina, Latin America, and beyond. His publications in both English and Spanish explore sexuality through multiple angles, including transnational socio-economic and demographic trends, mass migration, urbanization, popular culture, nation-state building, the history of science, and the changing politics of gender and race. His first publications explore the politics of sexuality in Argentina from 1880 to 1930 amidst the consolidation of the nation state and the professionalization of medicine and related disciplines. As Argentina became one of the larger agro-exporting economies in the late nineteenth century, the demand for workers attracted a large migration wave from overseas, bringing more men than women, and fostering a boom in prostitution and sex between men in a context where urban and political unrest was on the rise. Shaped by the international legitimacy of positivism and social Darwinism, the Argentine state approached unrest as “pathological” behavior in the realm of daily life, politics, and sexuality, even though liberal legislation prevailed, and social control was mostly ineffective. Professor Ben compares the Argentine prostitution and same-sex sexuality boom during this era with equivalent phenomena in other world cities like Shanghai, New York, Rio de Janeiro, London, and Nairobi. Driven by hundreds of millions of uprooted migrants as modern global capitalism connected the world and created co-dependent economies, many commercial and industrial nodes experienced a transformation that made them into “cities of sin,” a trend that came to an end in most regions of the world after the 1930s as a new family sociability was on the rise against the backdrop of emerging welfare states. In addition to exploring this transformation, Professor Ben’s publications also cover the changes affecting sexuality during the twentieth century in relation to the rise and fall of populist regimes, dictatorships, and democratic governments in Latin America, including comparisons between Latin American countries. More recently, he has approached recent history discussing the sexual revolution between the 1960s and 1980s, providing an analysis of the history of pornography as Latin American countries transitioned to democracy, and an explanation of the increasing acceptance of homosexuality, and the rise of same-sex marriage legislation across the Americas. 

Journal Articles

With Santiago Joaquín Insausti, “Latin American Destapes under the Transition to Democracy: Race, Sexuality, and Gender in Peruvian and Argentine Late Cold-War Pornography, 1975-1985,” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies. (forthcoming)

With Santiago Joaquín Insausti, “Homonationalism, LGBT Desaparecidos, and the Politics of Memory in Argentina,” Special Issue on ‘Queering Memory,’ Memory Studies, volume 16, issue 1, 2023, 66-84. 

With Santiago Joaquín Insausti, “The Rise and Consolidation of LGBT Rights in Latin America: A Historical Analysis of the Conditions Leading to the 2010 Same-Sex Marriage Law in Argentina,” Cahiers des Amériques Latines, Dossier “Quelle ‘révolution des droits’ LGBTQI+ en Amérique Latines, Vol. 1, No. 99, 2022.   

“Foucault, capitalismo, y sexualidad: tensiones conceptuales circa 1976,” Mora: Revista del Instituto Interdisciplinario de Estudios de Género, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 2020.

With Santiago Joaquín Insausti, “Dictatorial Rule and Sexual Politics in Argentina: The Case of the Frente de Liberación Homosexual, 1967-1976” in Hispanic American Historical Review, 2017, 297-235.

“Historia global y prostitución porteña: El fenómeno de la prostitución moderna en Buenos aires, 1880-1930,” Revista de Estudios Marítimos y Sociales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, 2013, p. 13-26.

“Sexual Comedy and Plebeian Masculinity in Buenos Aires, 1880-1930,” Journal of the History of Sexuality, 16:3, 2007, p. 436-58.

With Omar Acha, “Amorales, patoteros, chongos y pitucos. La homosexualidad masculine durante el primer peronismo (Buenos Aires, 1943-1955),” Trabajos y comunicaciones. La Plata, 2 época, nº 30/31, 2005, p. 217-60.  

With Omar Acha, “The Construction of Sex, Gender, Ethnicity, and Childhood in the Biopolitics of Archivos: Argentina, 1902-1912,” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Vol. 10, No 1, 2001, p. 83-102.  

Book Chapters

With Santiago Joaquín Insausti, “History of Sexuality in Buenos Aires, 1880-2021,” Cambridge World History of Sexualities, (forthcoming)

“Capitalismo, sexualidad e historia social global en Latinoamérica,” in Santiago Joaquín Insausti (ed.), Pasados queer en Latinoamérica: historias de la sexualidad en el siglo XIX (México: Editorial de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM). (forthcoming)

“Dos Demonios y Revolución Sexual en los Ochenta,” in Debora D’Antonio, Karin Grammatico and Catalina Trebisacce, Tramas Feministas al Sur (Buenos Aires: Madreselva, 2021).

With Santiago Joaquín Insausti, “¡Éramos tan diferentes y nos parecemos tanto! Cambios en las masculinidades hétero y homosexuales durante las últimas cuatro décadas en Argentina.” En José Javier Maristany & Jorge Luis Peralta (Comp.) Varones minados Aproximaciones a las masculinidades en Argentina (La Plata: Editorial de la Universidad de La Plata, 2018).

“Global Modernity and Sexual Science: The Case of Male Homosexuality and Female Prostitution, 1880-1950,” in Ryan Jones, Douglas Hayes, and Veronika Fuechtner (eds.), Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1950 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017), 29-50.

“La ciudad del pecado: Moral sexual en el Buenos Aires de principios del siglo XX entre las clases populares,” in: Dora Barrancos and Adriana Valobra (eds.), Historia de la Moral Sexual en Argentina, 1880-2011 (Buenos Aires: Biblos, 2015).

“Maricas and Lunfardos in Buenos Aires: A Critique of the Latino-Mediterranean Model of Sexuality,” in Carolina Rocha (ed.), Modern Argentine Masculinities (London: Intellect Press, 2013), p. 39-55.

“Male same-sexuality and the Argentine State, 1880-1930,” in: Corrales, Javier and Pecheny, Mario (eds.). The Politics of Sexuality in Latin America: A Reader on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010). p. 33-43.

“Cuerpos femeninos y cuerpos abyectos. La construcción anatómica de la feminidad en la medicina argentina,” in: Fernanda Gil Lozano, Valeria Pita and Gabriela Ini (eds.) Historia de las mujeres en Argentina. Colonia y Siglo XIX. Tomo I (Buenos Aires: Taurus, 2000), p. 253-71.

“Muéstrame tus genitales y te diré quién eres: El “hermafroditismo” en la Argentina finisecular y de principios de siglo XX,” in: Omar Acha and Paula Halperin (eds.) Cuerpos, géneros e identidades: estudios de historia de género en Argentina (Buenos Aires: El signo, 2000), p. 63-104.