Queer archives. A problematization.

SWEDISH CONFERENCE FOR GENDER RESEARCH

Rethinking knowledge regimes – solidarities and contestations
Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research, Gothenburg, 7-9 October 2019

Open sessions g19

Open sessions are free to attend and open to the public, but before attending, registration will be required. Registration will be open during the conference, at Folkets Hus.

Tuesday 8/10, 15.15-17.00

BLOCK V: Round table: Queer archives. A problematization.
Tone Hellesund, University of Bergen; Olov Kriström, Queer Movement’s Archive and Library; Anna Linder, Swedish Archive for Queer Moving Images; Rita Paqvalén, Culture for all; Sara Edenheim, Umeå University; Pia Laskar, The Network for Cultural Heritage and Cross-disciplinary Gender Research.

What is a queer archive? While some would answer that an archive of immaterial or material queerness collects practices that connotes failure to conform, belong or to cohere in – or interrupt – a heterosexual hegemony; others would define it as framing lineages of queer (meaning LGBTQ) practitioners, victims, ancestors and their remains, as well as of actions and eventually reforms; yet others would point to a collection of, or search for loss, absence, and that which yet is not. Some would also argue that queer archives in their physical form manifest queer presence in otherwise heteronormative public or private spaces and therefore also enable a critique and a resistance to a heterosexual hegemony shaping public and private spaces and institutions. Thus, the archivists and scholars studying archives of queerness also inscribe themselves in different epistemologies, politics and ethics. Collecting failures or achievements, abundance or loss, provides data for different narratives and visions of queerness. In this round table discussion, we will unfold and broaden possible narratives of queerness by bringing archivists and scholars into a vivid and problematizing discussion of queer archives.

Unstraight research in museums.
Queering museum´s permanent exhibitions and building networks.
Pia Laskar, The Network for Cultural Heritage and Cross-disciplinary Gender Research & Sweden’s National Historical Museums.
The project Unstraight Research in museums (duration 2016-2018) was shaped by a collaboration between the activist museum The Unstraight Museum, and two national Swedish museums – The Royal Armory museum and the Historical museum (funded by Statens kulturråd). One of the objectives of the project was to implement queer perspectives in two permanent exhibitions at the respective museums, another aim was to create a suitable method for queering exhibitions. An important part of fulfilling the objectives became building a national network that would bridge researchers in gender and queer studies and museum professionals. Thus, the network Cultural Heritage and Cross-disciplinary Gender Research was launched. In this presentation I will share some of the project’s results by discussing tools and pedagogy to challenge heteronormative history and to include hitherto marginalized queer narratives in museum exhibitions.

Unqueering memory: Erasing history?
The challenges of curating access to digitized film archival collections.

Dagmar Brünow, Linnaeus University.
Heritage institutions are currently trying to diversify national historiography by including narratives of ethnic and social minorities. This practice coincides with the digital turn which allows museums and (film) archives to remediate parts of their collections onto digital platforms. The recognition of specific groups, however, is not an easy task. Having to deal with government directives, the somewhat problematic legacies of collection policies and cataloguing practices, the lack of metadata as well as legal and ethical issues are but some of the challenges film archives are currently facing. At the same time, practices of recognition and the resulting visibility are ambivalent (Schaffer, 2008; Thomas et al 2018). This approach
positions the archive into an object of analysis, shifting the focus on the archive as a site of knowledge retrieval to a site of knowledge production (Foucault 1972, Stoler 2002). Instead of looking at ways of including LGBT+ lives as based on a priori identities, I suggest studying the processes of regulation according to which different lifestyles and experiences become ‘acknowledgeable’. LGBT+ lives in the archive have been defined by neglect, amnesia, or misrepresentations due to criminalization or pathologization. This is why specialized LGBT+ archives are often conceptualized as ‘safe havens’ for the queer community. Archival practice in such grassroot and community archives is often considered to be a labor of love, a practice of caring, an act of solidarity. Digitisation, however, is currently changing archival practice by allowing archival content to circulate online. What happens if footage filmed in separatist spaces or nightclubs leave the safe spaces of the archive and can be accessed worldwide by anyone? My paper looks at the risks and possibilities of today’s archival challenges when curating LGBT+ memories. Drawing on some of the findings from my research project “The Cultural Heritage of the Moving Image” (Swedish Research Council), this paper will examine both the recognition of LGBT+ lives in the Swedish national film archive and in community archives, such as The Lesbian Home Movie Project (Maine) and bildwechsel (Hamburg).

Organisers: The Network for Cultural Heritage and Cross-disciplinary Gender Research (genusarv.se) and Queer Movement’s Archive and Library (qrab.org).

Photo by Pia Laskar. From left side: Anna Linder, Olov Kriström, Rita Paqvalen, Sara Edenheim, Tone Hellesund
Photo by Axel Karlsson Rixon. From left side: Anna Linder, Olov Kriström, Rita Paqvalen, Sara Edenheim, Tone Hellesund, Pia Laskar