Queer Studies Goes Digital

Google books, journals available only online, Wikipedia. With so much
knowledge going digital, is print culture on its way out? While print
probably won’t disappear as a scholarly medium in the foreseeable future,
it is important that CLAGS remain at the cutting edge not just in terms of
the kinds of research we support, but in terms of how we disseminate that
research. We are currently involved in several long-term projects to share
digital resources with our membership and the community at large, expanding
on our longstanding commitment to making print and analog materials
available that are often not accessible anywhere else.
I am delighted to announce that CLAGS has received a grant from the
Arcus Foundation to develop a freely accessible educational web site on lesbian,
gay, transgender, bisexual, and queer (LGTBQ) history. The proposed
website, ambitious in scope, has the potential to reach a much larger and
more diverse audience than traditional print media on the subject.
Under the leadership of Jonathan Ned Katz, the new LGBTQ History
Website will ultimately include comprehensive information about history of
LGBTQ communities, concepts, and events. Data—including scanned historical
documents, audio segments of oral histories, photographs, video clips,
original texts, and, among other things, teaching modules—will be easily
accessible to LGTBQ people, the general public, and scholars.
This online history site will help to expunge the long record of historical
neglect, and help to deepen LGTBQ peoples’ sense of their own possibilities.
The site’s history of current struggles—for marriage, domestic partner
rights, law reform, for example—will deepen understanding of these hot
topics. The project will be guided by a distinguished advisory board.
The LGBTQ History website joins another of CLAGS’s digital projects,
the International Resource Network (www.irnweb.org). The guiding
principle of this website is to make both the production and the circulation
of knowledge as participatory as possible. It’s multilingual: the website is
being created in four base languages, Chinese, English, French, and Spanish,
and there are no barriers to participating. And anyone who registers on the
site can add resources in any language to its digital library—syllabi, articles,
announcements, information about their own institutions, pictures, speeches,
reports, ephemera. Users will also have their own home pages on the site,
where they can link to information on the site that they fi nd useful—articles
they like, groups they are a part of, e-journals they edit. They can also create
a public page for others to see what their interests are.

IRN members can also lead or participate in collaborative groups, forums, or
e-journals. They can create an on-line course team taught by seminar leaders in different
continents, edit an on-line journal, start a research or teaching group around
a certain issue, a research group. The Latin American / Caribbean Editorial Board
has started a peer reviewed working paper series, Sexualidades. The fi rst paper is
already in production.
In other news, CLAGS has been selected to host an international conference on
GLBT archives, libraries, museums, and special collections (ALMS) in May 2008.
This is the second “ALMS” conference—the fi rst was held in spring 2006 in Minneapolis.
CLAGS Board Member Polly Thistlethwaite, Associate Professor and
Associate Librarian for Public Services, Graduate Center, CUNY, an archivist and
recent awardee of grant funds to study LGTBQ archives in Berlin, is heading up
the organizational efforts for what promises to be an exciting event.
But, along with advances in digital technology come greater abilities to track,
store, and analyze information. While clearly this increased capacity for handling
information is a boon in many ways, it can also serve to place individuals at the
mercy of the state. Eric Keenaghan will lead a CLAGS Seminar in the City on
“Queer Nationalism and the Homeland Security State” this spring, addressing
questions such as, just how much has our activism and theory become reproductive
of conservative nation-state ideologies, then? Can we take a different approach to
security so as to disentangle it from a dangerous nationalism? Can we fi nd value in
its opposite, the citizen’s vulnerability?
If you live in the New York area, I hope to see you at one of CLAGS’s many
exciting events this spring. If not, I hope to see you in cyberspace.