Advocates and ambassadors: Collecting LGBTIQ history in a regional context

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


This paper reports on an ongoing study of LGBITQ history collections and collecting practices in the Riverina, an inland region of NSW. The focus of the paper is two exhibitions held in Wagga Wagga in late 2016 and the subsequent collection activities by the Museum of the Riverina and the CSU Regional Archives, and is motivated by the question ‘what makes an object queer?’.
The early twenty first century has seen an emerging body of knowledge looking at queer and LGBT memories as preserved in institutional and non-institutional collections (see for example Cvetkovich 2003; Kumbier 2014; Halberstam 2005). This project works alongside these theoretical approaches to build further understanding of the practices of collections that themselves often fall under the radar – regional libraries, museums and archives.
Preserving LGBT memories and histories should be an important part of work done by collecting institutions at state and national levels, but as Andrew Flinn notes, these state institutions ‘overwhelmingly privilege the voices of those with power and influence in society’, and that ‘when these 'others' do appear in the archives, they rarely speak with their own voice, but rather appear as the objects of official interest and concern’ (2010, n.p.).
The regional setting challenges the idea of ‘objects of official’ interest framing LGBT history; the geographic environment and populace enable other forms of social history and memory making, with the intimacies of regional and rural life creating different ways of knowing the queer experience and object.
This paper presents a discussion of current research in the Riverina region of NSW; the authors are undertaking a series of interviews with collection managers, curators, donors and audience members to build an understanding of working with queer objects in collections. At the core of this project is the question ‘what makes an object queer?’. Recognising objects as having a queer potentiality doesn’t change their role in the museum, library or archive, rather it enhances their classification and gives depth to the social memory of the region.

Works cited
Cvetkovich, A. (2003). An archive of feelings: Trauma, sexuality, and lesbian public cultures: Duke University Press.
Flinn, A. (2010) ‘An attack on professionalism and scholarship?: Democratising Archives and the Production of Knowledge’ Ariadne Issue 62
Halberstam, J. (2005). In a queer time and place: New York University Press.
Kumbier, A. (2014). Ephemeral material: Queering the archive. Sacramento: Litwin Press.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventAustralian Society of Archivists Annual Conference 2017 - University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 25 Sept 201728 Sept 2017


ConferenceAustralian Society of Archivists Annual Conference 2017
Abbreviated titleDiverse Worlds
Internet address


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