Kyle Lee-Crossett: The Politics of LGBT Inclusion in Public Collections

As LGBT History Month draws to a close, it seems like a good time to turn the spotlight onto the idea of LGBT history and in particular the politics of representing LGBT people in a public forum. Archaeology, anthropology, heritage studies, museum studies and historiography have all undergone a reflexive shift in recent years that pays attention to the practice of history, the people whom history is for and moreover the problem of whose history is represented. The place of LGBT people in these debates is particularly interesting because it involves histories that are often private, hidden and sexually explicit, which raises the question of whether LGBT heritage should be publicised at all and if so how it should be publicised. Cultural management of LGBT heritage often involves state intervention, which also implies state endorsement of progressive attitudes to sexuality which can rub up against certain objections (religious or otherwise) to the use of public money in this way.

In this fourth episode of The Provocateur‘s special miniseries for LGBT History Month, I talk to Kyle Lee-Crossett, a PhD candidate in Heritage Studies at University College London, to disentangle these complex issues. We discuss the problems of representing sexuality in museums and public collections, the question of whether diversity and inclusion practices empower LGBT people or oppress them, the institutionalisation of LGBT history and the consequences for the ways in which LGBT people view themselves, before finally looking ahead to prospects for the future of the museum and the position of LGBT people in it.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

Key introductory articles:

Blackmore, C. (2011) ‘How to Queer the Past Without Sex: Queer Theory, Feminisms and the Archaeology of Identity’, Archaeologies 7, pp. 75–96.

Byrne, D. (2005) ‘Excavating desire: queer heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region’, in: AsiaPacifiQueer Network. Available from: https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/8660

Eng, D., J. Halberstam and E. Muñoz (2005) ‘What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?’ Social Text 23(3-4), pp 1-17. DOI: 10.1215/01642472-23-3-4_84-85-1

Mills, R. (2008) ‘Theorizing the Queer Museum’, Museums & Social Issues [online] 3(1). pp 41-52. DOI: 10.1179/msi.2008.3.1.41

Theoretical background:

Freeman, E. (2010) Time Binds: queer temporalities, queer histories. Durham: Duke University Press.

Love, H. (2007) Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Muñoz, J. (1996) ‘Ephemera as Evidence: Introductory Notes to Queer Acts’, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 8(2), pp. 5-16. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012. doi:10.1080/07407709608571228.

Queering archives and museums:

Arondekar, A. (2015) ‘In the Absence of Reliable Ghosts: Sexuality, Historiography, South Asia’, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, [online] 25 (5). pp. 98-112. DOI: 10.1215/10407391-2847964

Cvetkovitch, A. (2003) An Archive of Feeling: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Culture. Duke University Press: Durham and London

Manalansan, M. (2014) ‘The “Stuff” of Archives: Mess, Migration, and Queer Lives’, Radical History Review 120, pp. 94-106.

Morris, C., and Rawson, K. (2013) ‘Queer Archives/Archival Queers’, in Ballif, M., (ed.) 2013. Theorizing Histories of Rhetoric. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, p 74-89.

Nguyen, M.T. (2015) ‘Minor Threats’, Radical History Review 122, pp. 11–24. 10.1215/01636545-2849495

Sheffield, R. (2014) ‘The Bedside Table Archives: Archive Interventions and Lesbian Intimate Domestic Culture’, Radical History Review 120, pp. 108-129. DOI: 10.1215/01636545-2703751

Steorn, P. (2012) ‘Curating Queer Heritage: Queer Knowledge and Museum Practice’, Digital 55(3). pp 355-365. DOI: 10.1111/j.2151-6952.2012.00159.x

Queer memory and memory politics:

Blair, C., and N. Michel (2007) ‘The AIDS Memorial Quilt and the Contemporary Culture of Public Commemoration’, Rhetoric & Public Affairs 10(4), pp. 595-626. DOI: 10.1353/rap.2008.0024

Boyd, N. A. (2005) Wide-open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Crage, S. and E. Armstrong (2006) ‘Movements and Memory: The Making of the Stonewall Myth’, American Sociological Review 71(5), pp 724-751. DOI: 10.1177/000312240607100502

Drysdale, K. (2014) ‘When Scenes Fade: Methodological lessons from Sydney’s drag king culture’, Cultural Studies 29(3), pp 1-18. DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2014.937939

Dunn, T. (2011) ‘Remembering “A Great Fag”: Visualizing Public Queer Memory and the Construction of Queer Space’, Quarterly Journal of Speech 97(4), pp 435-460. DOI: 10.1080/00335630.2011.585168

Jones, C. (2007) ‘A Vision of the Quilt’, Rhetoric & Public Affairs 10(4). pp 575-579. DOI: 10.1353/rap.2008.0033

Lamble, S. (2008) ‘Retelling Racialized Violence, Remaking White Innocence: The Politics of Interlocking Oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance’, Sexuality Research & Social Policy 5(1), pp. 24-42. DOI: 10.1525/srsp.2008.5.1.24

Morris, C. (2007) ‘Introduction: The Mourning After’, Rhetoric and Public Affairs 10(4), pp. 557-574. DOI: 10.1353/rap.2008.0028

Rubin, G. (2004) ‘The Catacombs: A Temple of the Butthole’, in Thompson, M. (ed.) Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People, Politics, and Practice. Los Angeles: Daedalus Publishing, pp. 119-141.

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