Sex, religion, censorship, de Valera, Harvard Irish Study
A curious Irish-American international incident occurred at the onset of World War 2 and during the Irish Emergency in 1940. An invitation to Eamon de Valera from Earnest Hooton, Director of the Harvard-Irish Survey, to write a preface to Family and Community in Ireland, authored by American anthropologists, Conrad Arensberg and Solon Kimball, resulted in a request to impose restrictions on the about-to-be-published text. Offended by the frequent references to sex and to the content of chapter 11, Familism and Sex, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland advised the Director of Harvard University Press to reconsider publication of the entire book. We investigate what happened, who was involved and how the crisis was resolved at least for the protagonists. We reveal some of the original unpublished text by
Arensberg and Kimball, consider the circumstances of the censorship conducted on both sides of the Atlantic, the impact on the published text and the responses by the authors. We propose that further investigation into the excised content and the legacy of anthropological constructions of Irish sexualities is now warranted.