• A Queer/ed Archival Methodology: Theorizing Practice through Radical Interrogations of the Archival Body

      Brooks, Catherine F.; Lee, Jamie Ann; Brooks, Catherine F.; Ceja Alcalá, Janet; Gilliland, Anne J.; Stryker, Susan; Galarte, Francisco J. (The University of Arizona., 2015)
      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, British Columbia, 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 archival attention? 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.