The Christmas holidays both seemed to pass by in a blur and very slowly but I guess that’s the strange nature of time in a global pandemic. Still, work continued. I spent my time working and volunteering with the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group updating their website which was lots of fun and something which I am really proud of. In my spare time, I was working towards finalising my dissertation question by doing lots of research and reading around the theme of heritage and politics; my dissertation proposal is due in week 7 of Spring term and so this has been on my mind quite a lot.
One highlight of the Christmas holidays and the beginning of the new term, however, was attending the Queer Heritage and National Collections Symposium. This was a two day conference which was very fun but also enlightening. I have learnt to re-frame my thinking and also be more careful with the terminology I use when discussing LGBTQIA+ heritage and history. For example, not using the phrase ‘hidden histories’ to discuss this topic, instead discussing ‘under researched histories’, and likewise not calling LGBTQIA+ communities ‘hard to reach’, they simply ‘haven’t been reached out to’. This sentiment was shared by E-J Scott and highlights how simple changes in language can make your work and this discipline so much more inclusionary. It is also important to consider what Andrew McLellan said, that for museums in particular, “it is easier to do things the way they’ve always been done, but that does not mean it is the right way.” This is very much true of the way the museum sector functions at the moment, despite attempts to diversify exhibitions and collections, more work still needs to be done. This will be a difficult process but a necessary one. It is essential that everyone feels represented by museums as they reflect, in this case, England’s histories. These histories are vastly diverse and so museums should show this.
It is also important to consider what peer support should be in place when creating museum and heritage displays which focus on LGBTQIA+ histories because there are sometimes topics which people within this community have struggled with or are painfully aware of and so support networks such as counselling and mentoring should be available. I hope that by sharing some of these messages from the symposium it will cause you to consider the language used in wider discourse but also how we as a community of archaeologists can be more open and inclusive.
For those of you who are interested, there is an online festival being held by TATE called ‘Queer and Now’ being held from 1st-28th February 2021. https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/online-event/festival/queer-and-now-2021
There is also an online course being held by the V&A called ‘A Queer History of Objects’. This will run from the 19th of February until the 26th of March 2021. For more information, please see: https://www.vam.ac.uk/event/rZdQDNMK/o20019-a-queer-history-of-objects-s...