Queer Archiving: Recommissioning Queer Oral Histories

Queer Archiving: Recommissioning Queer Oral Histories

Friday 5th October 2018

Sussex Humanities Lab

Free event but booking essential

In 2012-14 the Queer in Brighton project set out to record the histories of Brighton’s LGBTQ+ communities. Over the course of 2 years project members and volunteers conducted 50+ oral history interviews. These recordings capture a unique moment in history, and as a collection provide extraordinary insight into the lived lives of Brighton’s LGBTQ+ residents, both pas, and present. Testimonials in this collection describe pivotal moments in LGBTQ+ history – of the agony and ecstasy of fighting for civil rights, of the joy and sadness of coming out, of the laughter and tears of love found and love lost, of the mundane and surreal of everyday life and experiences of Brighton’s LGBTQ+ communities, across generations. Currently, however, this rich tapestry of material is currently unavailable but with your help, we would like to re-commission these queer oral histories and bring these stories back to the communities they represent and, in effect, create.

This event, the 2nd related to Dr Sharon Webb’s British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, is a hands-on, practical workshop. It will guide participants through some general archiving methods and principles, including metadata (or data about data). Participants will get a chance to review selected material from the Queer in Brighton oral history collection and to write descriptive metadata that will help catalogue the Queer in Brighton oral history collection. Through this practical work, we will explore the notion that “queer” archiving is ‘a disruptive, transformational, or oppositional practice designed to challenge normalizing systems and structures’ (Kumbier, 2013) and will ask how such interventions challenges or informs archival praxis.

This workshop is a collaboration between the Sussex Humanities Lab, Queer in Brighton, Brighton LGBTQ+ History Club, and the Brighton Digital Festival, and funded by the British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award held by Dr Sharon Webb. The programme also features a live audio-visual improv performed by Ioann Maria from the Sussex Humanities Lab. Ioann will use content from the Queer in Brighton collection to create a unique audio-visual experience.

No prior knowledge is required but participants are requested to bring along a laptop or tablet and earphones. If you would like to attend but do not have access to a laptop or tablet please let us know and we will try to team you up with someone.

Lunch, tea, and coffee will be provided on the day.

Small travel bursaries will be available, details of which to follow, or email sharon.webb@sussex.ac.uk for details.

This is a free event but booking is essential as places are limited.

Outline of the day:

10.00 – 10.30 Coffee

10.30 – 10.35 Welcome and Introduction, Dr. Sharon Webb, Sussex Humanities Lab

10.35 – 11.05 Maria Jastrzebska, editor of Queer in Brighton Anthology, ”Cutting on the bias?”

11.05 – 11.35 Jan Pimblett, London Metropolitan Archives, Challenges associated with archiving oral history collections

11.35 – 12.05 Dr. Niamh Moore, The University of Edinburgh, “‘Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey’ LGBT histories: community archives as boundary objects”

12.05 – 12.35 Karen Watson, Special Collections Archivist, The Keep, ‘Predicting the Future’

12.45 – 13.15 Sharon Webb, Introduction to some basic archiving principles

13.15 – 13.45 Lunch

13.45 – 15.45 Hands-on practical element – Volunteers work in groups to write metadata and archive selected oral history interviews

15.45 – 16.00 Open discussion and reflections

16.00 – 17.00 Live improv by Ioann Stacewicz from the Sussex Humanities Lab AND Wine reception