Science, Technology, and Society Seminar: STS Circle at Harvard (Zoom)


Monday, November 8, 2021, 12:15pm to 2:00pm


Online Only

"Vice Patrol: Antigay Policing and the Politics of Knowledge before Stonewall"

Attend this event via Zoom (advance registration required)


Anna Lvovsky, Assistant Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.


Emily Neill

Co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

This event is online only. Please click the "Read More" link for full instructions on how to attend this seminar.


Sheila JasanoffFaculty Associate. Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School.

Remote Access Information:

To join by computer:

Please note: This event requires registration in advance in order to receive the meeting link and password.


In the mid-twentieth century, gay life flourished in American cities even as the state repression of queer communities reached its peak. Liquor investigators infiltrated and shut down gay-friendly bars. Plainclothes decoys enticed men in parks and clubs. Vice officers surveilled public bathrooms through peepholes and two-way mirrors. This talk examines the tactics used to criminalize, surveil, and suppress gay life from the 1930s through the 1960s, and the often-surprising controversies those tactics inspired in court. More than simply disputes about the law’s proper treatment of gay people, the police’s antigay campaigns stood at the center of live debates about the nature of sexual difference, the authority of experts, and the institutional gaps between the police and the courts—debates that illuminate both the police’s role in shaping public understandings of gay life and the rich, unpredictable intersections between state regulation and public knowledge about marginalized social groups.