Joint Book Launch: Documenting Rebellions and Information Activism


4:30 PM - 6:00 PM

The Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies is hosting a virtual joint book launch for Documenting Rebellions: A Study of Four Lesbian and Gay Archives in Queer Times by Rebecka Taves Sheffield, and Information Activism: A Queer History of Lesbian Media Technologies by Cait McKinney.

This event will be held on Zoom, and live captioning will be available. Please use the order form for this event or the “Contact the Organizer” function on Eventbrite if you have any other accessibility requirements.

Please register on Eventbrite in order to access the Zoom link for the launch.

Documenting Rebellions is a study of four archives that were constituted with a common desire to preserve the memory and evidence of lesbian and gay people. They are The Lesbian Herstory Archives (New York), The ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives (Los Angeles), the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives (West Hollywood), and the ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives (Toronto). Using a narrative approach that draws from first-person accounts and archival research, each chapter tells a story about how these organizations came to exist, who has supported them over time, and how they have survived for more than forty years. This book is the result of a five-year project that began in 2012 and builds on the author’s own experience working with lesbian and gay archives. In Documenting Rebellions, Sheffield places lesbian and gay archives in the context of changing political opportunity structures that have afforded a liberal lesbian and gay rights movement some successes while continuing to marginalize intersectional, queer and trans people. The goal of this study is not to critique these organizations, but to show how this cohort of community archives has been affected by the very same combination of socio-political and economic factors that shape the cultural histories that they preserve. Documenting Rebellions consider the material needs of archives – space, money, and expertise – that are sometimes rendered invisible by the idiosyncratically subjective cultural theory model of ‘the archive’ that has emerged from within interdisciplinary studies. By tracing the emergence and development of these organizations, Sheffield uncovers representational politics, institutional pluralism, generational divides, shifting national politics, interpersonal relationships, and challenges with sustainability, both financial and otherwise.

Click here to purchase Documenting Rebellions.

Rebecka Taves Sheffield is an archivist and archival educator based in Hamilton, Ontario. Presently, she is a senior policy advisor for the Archives of Ontario and works on digital recordkeeping strategies. Rebecka previously served as the Executive Director for the ArQuives (formerly the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives), where she spent the better part of a decade learning as much as possible about Canada’s LGBTQ2+ histories.

For decades, lesbian feminists across the United States and Canada have created information to build movements and survive in a world that doesn’t want them. In Information Activism Cait McKinney traces how these women developed communication networks, databases, and digital archives that formed the foundation for their work. Often learning on the fly and using everything from index cards to computers, these activists brought people and their visions of justice together to organize, store, and provide access to information. Focusing on the transition from paper to digital-based archival techniques from the 1970s to the present, McKinney shows how media technologies animate the collective and unspectacular labor that sustains social movements, including their antiracist and trans-inclusive endeavors. By bringing sexuality studies to bear on media history, McKinney demonstrates how groups with precarious access to control over information create their own innovative and resourceful techniques for generating and sharing knowledge.

Click here to purchase Information Activism.

Cait McKinney is Assistant Professor of Communication at Simon Fraser University and coeditor of Inside Killjoy’s Kastle: Dykey Ghosts, Feminist Monsters, and Other Lesbian Hauntings.

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