||This project uses the body as a framework to understand and re-imagine the archives
(here referring to the professionally managed repository). It argues that the archives
as a body of knowledge, like the human body, does not and cannot fit into normative
stable categories. Tracing the shift in archival paradigms from modern to postmodern,
I employ the posthuman to argue for a concomitant shift in understanding of the archival
body, which I conceive of as comprising both human and non-human corpora of knowledge
and knowledge-making practices. These corpora are simultaneously becoming and unbecoming
as multiply-situated identities, technologies, representations, and timescapes. Using
temporality as a key element in analyzing archival productions, I consider how this
body might sediment. This research, written from my insider perspective as an archivist,
implements a transdisciplinary approach that draws from the disciplines of archival
and queer studies as well as from somatechnics, embodiment and affect studies, and
decolonizing methodologies to advocate for a proposed Queer/ed Archival Methodology,
Q/M, that is designed to trouble the concepts of archival theory and production. It
also employed on-site observation and interviews at the Transgender Archives in Victoria,
Canada, observation and narrative analysis of recordings held by the Arizona
Queer Archives and the Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project, and online interviews with
the developer of the Skeivt Arkiv, Norway's first state-sanctioned queer archives.
Three overarching questions guided the research:
1) How can archives simultaneously hold normative and non-normative stories, materials
and practices together as both complementary and also contradictory without subordinating
or otherwise invalidating either and so that each can still be considered worthy of
2) How might a Q/M be a radical intervention into normative archival practices and
structures and to what ends?
3) What might it mean and look like for a queer/ed archives to be a radically open
space? For whom?
As we encounter multiply-situated subjects in the postmodern approach and follow traces
in order to interrogate the force and function of respectability politics within the
archival body, the modern and anthropocentric Cartesian statement 'Je pense, donc
je suis' (I think, therefore I am) can no longer support the human and records as
the central theme of archival endeavors. The posthuman approach offers many possibilities.
Through the understanding that human bodies are relational and contingent in complex
ways to non-human bodies and each to bodies of knowledges, human and non-human bodies
come together in complex relations and assemblages within the archives. Archival productions
can thus represent new and emerging thoughts on lived experiences as these are situated
in various structures and systems. The Q/M offers a way of thinking and acting with,
about, through, among, and at times in spite of traditional as well as emerging archival
practices and processes in order to facilitate new, imaginative, irrational, and unpredictable
re-configurations of bodies and archives and the many histories and records therein.
Its flexible foundation in the theories employed in the research support Q/M?s seven
key approaches: 1) Participatory Ethos, 2) Connectivity, 3) Storytelling, 4) Intervention,
5) Re-framing, 6) Re-imagining, and 7) Flexibility & Dynamism.