Questioning the neutrality of archives is nothing new as feminist scholars have been doing it since the 1970s. More recently, queer theorists have pushed the subjectivity of the archive even further by emphasizing the importance of desire and pleasure as its central tenants. The archive in these discussions is sometimes a metaphor for a variety of experiences and at other times a brick-and-mortar physical space. Yet, there has been a lack of focus on the relationships between these two approaches. Similarly, there has not been enough discussion on how to challenge the exclusivity of the archive in our everyday praxis as queer researchers and feminist teachers. To address these elisions, this reflexive essay uses the feeling of discomfort to interrogate the power dynamics evident in LGBTQ+ collections across different archival institutions. I argue that an open discussion of paratextual factors such as class and the unofficial networks surrounding archives that are formed by scholars, archivists, and community members are crucial in challenging the exclusionary nature of the archive in our research and in the classroom.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.