Today began with a fantastic presentation by Richard Parkinson from the British Museum. They are doing a lot of work with their collection, and have developed a paper trail and web portal, which gets more than 1000 hits per month. He also expressed his frustration at how difficult it was for him to find artefacts relating to lesbian women in history.
Another Keynote Speaker was from IBM, whose job is to liase with LGBTI organisation, as well as promote workplace diversity to their clients. Hearing a presentation from a business perspective was quite different, mostly because they spent so much time talking about the good things they have done for civil rights, but did not once mention IBMs history of Nazi connections and anti-Semitism. People from an information background, like an archivist or librarian, understands than the bad history is just as important and valuable as the good, and to eliminate that history goes against our ethics as information managers.
There was a fantastic presentation from Jenni Orme and Paveen Betab from The National Archives of the UK on their collection of Oscar Wild’s papers, and the difficulties they have with language. Through all his papers, the words ‘gay’ and ‘homosexual’ don’t appear once. Instead, words lie ‘invert’ and ‘deviant’ are used, which mean that when people do full text search, they can only find outdated terms, which are now quite offensive.
Another notable presentation way by Prof Stephen Whittle who is a transman, and researches transgender history. He felt that despite being a notable Professor, with a number of awards to his name, cannot get a paying job, because his research is so often considered trivial. He spoke of how difficult it is for people to recognise trans people, particularly historical transpeople, and trans, rather than just gay, lesbian, butch, effeminate etc. This is even within the queer communities.
We still have the closing speeches, but I am about to run out of battery power. This has been an amazing conference, and I am so glad I came all this way. Next conference will be in Florida, in 2014, and I am totally going!