Queer Voices, Queer Worlds: Update from the International Resource Network

The first six months of 2012 was a particularly active and fruitful period
for the International Resource Network (IRN), a global network of
researchers, activists, artists, and teachers sharing knowledge about
diverse sexualities, hosted by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies.
Our organization continued to grow with new projects and alliances,
serving the needs of scholars, activists, artists and students worldwide.
The Africa region of IRN launched two new projects, the Digital Library of
Africa and Voices in the Shadows. The Digital Library of Africa is a web project
connected to the IRN website. The project will feature material documenting
Africa’s queer history. Voices in the Shadows is a radio drama series dealing
with issues facing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities
in Kenya, developed primarily by and for LGBTI Kenyans who still face
institutionalized and social discrimination. IRN Africa has also co-sponsored
the International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO) events organized by the Gay
and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, and the queer e-magazine Identity Kenya. IRN
Africa has also prepared a new issue of Outliers, an e-journal featuring essays
written by scholars and activists whose work is focused on African sexualities.
All issues of Outliers are available on the IRN website.
Determined to contribute to the emergence of new queer voices in the region,
IRN Asia developed a variety of new projects. “In Search of Queer” is an online
digital library that will compile and introduce selected queer studies and sexuality
studies texts to China, especially those from the rest of Asia. The website
will include translated articles, resources, book reviews, original articles,
special opinion columns written by sexuality studies scholars, and interactive
projects where community members can submit photos and short posts. The
project aims to promote the articulation of a native discourse by Chinese LGBT
activists. “On the Margins” reading group focuses on the marginalized people
and issues within the sexual minority communities in Asia. The group reads
both classic works of queer theory and newer, creative works, mainly from the
region. IRN Asia also co-sponsored one of the first lesbian non-fiction books
published in China, where implicit rules prevent such books from official
publication. The Lace Dictionary unearths the history of same-sex love between
women in China and re-tells their forgotten stories. Another publication by IRN
Asia is the China queer women’s activism map. This project features a map of
queer women’s activism in China, including background and contact information
for each organization. The map will be available in print and online. IRN
Asia also sponsored one day of Chinese Lala Alliance’s bi-annual international
conference, where speakers and workshop trainers from India, the Philippines,
Taiwan, and Hong Kong discussed about the connection between queer and
feminist theory and sexuality activism. In order to encourage young scholars
and students interested in sexuality studies in the region, IRN Asia is now
organizing a competition to support the work of students with the best project
proposals in the field. Another major project of IRN Africa was the digital storytelling
workshops implemented in China. The workshops teach participants
how to make short videos on their personal stories, capturing their oral history
through image and sounds, with the ultimate goal of sharing the videos with a
wider audience. The project also involves developing a training manual for the
workshops to be made available to other groups.
In the meantime, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Middle East regions
of the IRN continued to develop their projects. IRN Caribbean launched the
publication Theorizing Homophobia in the Caribbean, an edited collection bringing
together works which reflect on the complexities of homophobia(s) in the
Caribbean to expand awareness about Caribbean LGBT lives, experiences, and
activism in the region and its diaspora. The collection is available online. IRN
Caribbean also expanded the Digital Archives of the Activist and Related Work
in the Caribbean project. There are three established collections in this digital
archive: a general one presenting a variety of relevant material from the region,
the collection of the Gay Freedom Movement of Jamaica, and the collection of
the Rainbow Alliance of the Bahamas. IRN Latin America developed two new
issues of Sexualidades, an e-journal featuring essays in the field of sexuality
studies in the Americas. IRN Middle East continued to expand Turkey’s Queer
Lives: An Oral History Project. Implemented in collaboration with Bogazici
University’s Department of History, Turkey’s Queer Lives collects oral history
accounts from LGBTQ people to be published as an edited volume. IRN Middle
East’s Transnational Peer Review Network (TPRN) continued to serve the needs
of students and researchers. TPRN is a free online network designed to provide
pro bono peer reviewing services for students, scholars and independent
researchers working in the field of Middle Eastern sexualities. The service is
available in English, Arabic, Persian and Turkish. For more information, please
contact R. Ertug Altinay: rea270@nyu.edu.
To participate in our projects, to learn the latest news and opportunities in the
field of sexuality studies, and to communicate with other individuals and groups
that are active in the field, please visit our website: www.irnweb.org.