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Zavier Nunn

Fellow, Society of Fellows, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (2024–Present)

Lecturer, Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender, Columbia University

email address [email protected]

Zavier Nunn is a historian of sex (change) and subjectivity, specializing in the administration of medical and legal forms of transition in early twentieth century Germany. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and was previously the Postdoctoral Associate on “Histories of the Transgender Present” in the Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies department at Duke University.

His first monograph, Liminal Lives: Trans Before and in the Time of the Nazism, is under review at Duke University Press. Tempering rosy accounts of queer life during Germany’s first democracy and challenging notions of uniform Nazi persecution against gender non-conformity with granular archival research, this book tells stories that overturn long-held assumptions in histories of gender and sexuality and complicate presentist expectations of this past.

Nunn is currently working on a history of legal sex change that tracks its continuation across liberal and illiberal political regimes, which understands ‘sex’ and its alterability as symbolic of value systems that are carried under its sign. A larger project will further historicise sex on the symbolic order (and the reasons it could change) adjacent to fields of knowledge production in modern Europe, tentatively titled Sexed Subjectivity: Histories of the Trans Present. Across his research, Nunn uses micro-and-intermediary historical methods to unpick how macro systems (of meaning and matter) are stitched together. He is published in Past & Present, Gender & History, and German History.