In the ongoing research and activism concerning the queer archive of feelings, few historians have openly engaged in the discussion on the limits and possibilities of the archive. This article, written by a historian, provides a critical perspective on this debate and an analysis of historicity, historical methodology and, foremost, fantasy. Does the “scholar’s archive,” as defined by Ann Cvetkovich, even exist? Is there really such an unambiguous difference between the historian’s view on the traditional archive, filled with bureaucratic waste, and the allegedly radical archive of feelings, consisting of ephemera and “feelings”? Is it not with the future in mind that both the historian and the queer archivist insist on conserving documents and feelings alike? Such questions lead to a discussion on the importance of not giving up the Lacanian definition of the negative as applied by Lee Edelman. The author claims that it is through a deradicalizing (or rather depsychoanalyzing) of the negative that the idea of a queer archive loses its way. The implications of the negative on queer theory and politics are brought up through analysis of an art exhibition featuring internationally established queer artists and described as a unique and radical queer archival activism that scorns the traditional archive for excluding (queer) feelings. Following Edelman, this article reaches a different conclusion, wherein the traditional archive may be seen in a new light—or rather, in a new darkness where the dead are painfully absent and helpless, reminding us of the meaninglessness of reproductive futurism.
Sara Edenheim; Lost and Never Found: The Queer Archive of Feelings and Its Historical Propriety. differences 1 December 2013; 24 (3): 36–62. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2391950
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