Speaker spotlight: Ajamu

Archival DirtThe Politics of Pleasure in Black Queer Archives

“Pleasure only starts once the worm has got into the fruit” – Georges Bataille

The main objective of this presentation is to acknowledge the politics of pleasure within Black queer archives and archival activism.

rukus! Federation is known for its long-standing and successful programme of community-based work with Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans artists and cultural producers; locally, nationally and internationally. Our work has a reputation for being dynamic and participative, and includes one off events, screenings, workshops, debates and exhibitions. The rukus! Black LGBT Archive, launched in 2005, generates, collects, preserves and makes available to the public historical, cultural and artistic materials relating to our lived experience in contemporary Britain.

The history, experience and achievements of predominantly Black gender transgressors and individuals with non-normative sexualities do not appear in their rightful place in archival records of people’s lives.

The compound impact of racism, homophobia, transphobia and hetrosexism operates to exclude people altogether, or to deny an essential element of somebody’s identity. In the last few years a considerable amount of literature has been published on queering archives and archival activism.

My concern is that queer archives, including my own work, risk becoming locked into poor notions of identity politics and representation and inadvertently deny other ways in which community history and heritage can be discussed and more importantly felt.

This presentation is motivated by a desire to consider identity specific archives in more nuanced ways, using pleasure as a political tactic.


Ajamu is a London based fine art photographer and curator (www.rukus.org.uk) and one of the UK’s leading specialist Black LGBT histories. He has been involved with Queer, Trans, Intersex, People of Colour (QTIPOC) communities, and wider social justice activism, for over 20 years, working primarily in the UK, but connected and active nationally and internationally. In 2015, he completed his MA in Queer Studies at Birmingham School of Art.

Website: www.ajamu-fineartphotography.co.uk
rukus! website: www.rukus.org.uk

Ajamu will be speaking on day 2 of the conference

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