Having attended the previous LGBTIQ-ALMS Conference in Amsterdam in 2012, I was delighted to be invited back to the 2016 edition in London. There were lots of familiar faces, and lots of new ones, so it really felt like returning to a family that has expanded in the intervening years. I was there with two hats on – one as a PhD student in LGBTIQ history at the University of Melbourne, and one as Vice President of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives. Not every conference evokes such feelings of excitement: because so much of our work is (still) foundational, it is with genuine intrigue that I returned to discover what progress has been made by already existing archival collections and what new ones have emerged.
It was also the theme ALMS Without Borders that drew me back, as it spoke not only to the central concerns of my doctoral research on transnational knowledge exchange around homosexuality during the Cold War, but also spoke to my humanistic sympathies with asylum seekers and my political interest in the issues of migration, borders and international solidarity. My research focuses on properly trying to understand the differences and continuities in the function of homophobia on either side of the Berlin Wall. This requires me to address methodological questions arising from imbalances in both archival collections and in historical research. This year’s conference provided the ideal environment for me to think through some of these questions, and prompted the title of my paper ‘Anti-Monolithic Research: Transcending Geopolitical Barriers in the History of Sexuality’. This paper will now form a section of my dissertation, and I am thankful for the thoughtful feedback I received on the paper.
Some highlight sessions for me were Linda Chernis on GALA’s Simon Nkoli collection in South Africa, Anna Borgos’s update on the growing Hungarian Lesbian Herstory Archive, Ajamu’s amazing (despite the technical glitch) presentation on the politics of pleasure in the Black Queer Archives, Sarah Davidmann’s moving exploration of photography, a transgender relative and the family archive in ‘Ken. To Be Destroyed.’ and EJ Scott’s recounting of Lady Malcolm’s Servants’ Balls in interwar London (I also went to the ‘re-enactment’ party at Bishopsgate Institute which was a fun way indeed to synthesise the themes raised in the presentation!). I really look forward to the next LGBTIQ-ALMS Conference and hope once again both to see old friends and meet new ones working in this important field.
PhD Candidate in History, University of Melbourne
Vice-President, Australian Lesbian & Gay Archives