Experts enjoyed a great deal of authority in state socialist Eastern Europe - but some experts were more equal than others. In this episode of the Transformative Podcast, sociologist Kateřina Lišková charts the changing ways in which medical experts held “the ear of the state” throughout the socialist period, and analyzes what they did with their room to maneuver. Focusing on the work of sexologists in particular, Lišková tells host Rosamund Johnston (RECET) what sex and home life can ultimately reveal about the political priorities of socialism.
Kateřina Lišková is a researcher at the Institute of History of the Czech Academy of Sciences, where she heads a project investigating expertise in authoritarian societies called ExpertTURN. She is the author of Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style: Communist Czechoslovakia and the Science of Desire, 1945-1989, which was published with Cambridge University Press in 2018 and won the Barbara Heldt Prize. This book has been adapted into a series of short, critically-acclaimed documentaries for Czech Television called Kronika orgasmu [Orgasm Chronicle] (2022), in which Lišková features as an expert.