The archive has been theorized as unstable and even fever-ridden, but what might it mean to deploy it in ways that counter its logic or to activate it in ways that we might call queer? Using the example of Leah DeVun's photographic exploration of the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives (the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender research collection), this essay traces the manners in which an archive, as a repository of information, might always shore up certain histories while delimiting others. In contrast, the authors imagine using the archive badly—that is, not as a historian would but through interpolation and anachronism, focusing on the archive's feel and “mere” form. Rather than reconstruct the ways that archival materials inhabit a discrete historical period, this essay explores what it means to focus on the human agents that pull archival objects from circulation, as well as how such objects might circulate again. Ultimately, the authors consider an archive as an accretive space that continues to build up, and as a history in which we might live, rather than as a document of an already finished time.
Other|October 01 2014
Leah DeVun, Michael Jay McClure; Archives Behaving Badly. Radical History Review 1 October 2014; 2014 (120): 121–130. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-2703760
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