What Did We Find When We Went Looking For Australia's Queer Heritage?


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  • ZOOM Seminar

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    Heritage Victoria has commissioned the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA) to develop a new heritage study A History of LGBTIQ Victoria in 100 Places and Objects.

    Based on community consultation, this study aims to identify the top 100 historical places and objects of significance to the queer community across the state. The study will include places of gathering, punishment, ‘treatment’, political activism, social life, recreation and health from as far back as records reveal to today. It will also include significant objects, documents, photos and collections to bring to light Victoria’s hidden queer histories.

    The analysis of queer heritage (in built environment and museum contexts) is already well underway in the UK, US and countries overseas, but the same cannot be said of Australia. While there has been much written about Australia’s LGBTIQ history – people, events and lived experience – ‘queering heritage’ has only recently started in earnest.

    Doing queer heritage presents challenges because it means finding historically a marginalised and criminalised group in extant material culture. Sometimes ‘things’ relating to queer people often have not survived. Given that many queer people deliberately lived ‘in the closet’ and left little trace of their lives, what places and objects represent them?

    This report is due for release in mid-2020 and is a first of its kind in Australia. It will be a valuable reference point for the understanding, protection and interpretation of queer heritage, and that of other marginalised groups, in the future.

    Hosted by ACAHUCH (The Australian Centre of Architectural History, Urban and Cultural Heritage at the University of Melbourne, the seminar will feature an inspiring dialogue between two key contributors to the Heritage Victoria report.


    speaker #1

    Dr Marina Larsson is an award-winning historian who has lectured at La Trobe and Monash universities. Her book Shattered Anzacs: Living with the Scars of War (UNSW Press) was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Award for Australian History, the Ernest Scott Prize and the Asher Literary Award. In her current role as Principal, Heritage Assessments, Heritage Victoria she researches variety of historical places and objects to ascertain their cultural heritage significance for Victoria and its communities. Marina has been active in Melbourne’s queer worlds since the mid-1990s and is Heritage Victoria’s Project Manager for this project.

    speaker #2

    Graham Willett, from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, is a historian of Australia’s queer past. He has been active in gay, left and trade union activism since 1979. He has a particular interest in making these histories available to wide publics in books and article, history walks, exhibitions and the queer media. He is ALGA’s Project Manager for this project.