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Keynote by Elspeth Brown: Care as Affect in Queer and Trans Oral History and Activism
May 5 @ 10:15 – 12:00
“Care as Affect in Queer and Trans Oral History and Activism”
This talk examines queer and trans oral history and archival activism through the lens of care. In the context of trans oral history, I ask: are these projects (including my own) simply an example of trans visibility that intensifies the surveillance and neoliberal representational politics that is endangering the most marginalized of trans people? Or do these projects offer a different kind of political intervention, the careful gathering of trans narratives as a form of radical trans care? In the context of queer activism and oral history work, how has “care” functioned as a key affect in sustaining activism and radical sex practices?
Using two oral history projects that I’ve been working on via the LGBQT Oral History Digital Collaboratory (Toronto)—one on trans activism and one on queer sex radicalism—I think through the political implications of my archival and public humanities work through the lens of what Hil Malatino has recently described as an ethos of “trans care.” I offer a set of reflections, anxieties, and strategies that have guided myself and my collaborators in pursuing queer and trans public humanities work that resists neoliberal narrative arcs and pursues the creation of a usable past through an ethos of radical trans care and mutual aid.
Elspeth Brown Bio
Elspeth Brown is Professor of History at the University of Toronto and Associate VP Research, University of Toronto, Mississauga. Her research concerns modern queer and trans history; the history and theory of photography; and the history of US capitalism. She is the author of Work! A Queer History of Modeling (Duke University, 2019); co-editor of “Queering Photography,” a special issue of Photography and Culture (2014); and Feeling Photography (Duke University Press, 2014), among other books. Recent articles include “Transmediation as Radical Pedagogy in Building Queer and Trans Digital Archives,” forthcoming from the Digital Humanities Quarterly and “Archival Activism, Symbolic Annihilation, and the LGBTQ+ Community Archive” (Archivaria 2020). She has published in GLQ, TSQ; Gender and History; American Quarterly; Radical History Review; Photography and Culture; Feminist Studies; Aperture; No More Potlucks, and others). She is the Director of the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory, a multi-year digital history and oral history public, digital humanities collaboration. At the University of Toronto, she is also to Faculty Lead for the Critical Digital Humanities Initiative, a three-year Institutional Strategic Initiative. She is an active volunteer and former President of the Board for The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives, the world’s largest and oldest queer community archive.
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