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Volume 29, Issue 57
  • ISSN: 0845-4450
  • E-ISSN: 2048-6928



The relationship between the historical production of the archive and the construction of social bodies enforced patriarchal authority in many state archives. The cultural implications of the archive and the edifice of the social body, particularly for queer, gendered and racialized bodies are explored as a duality between oppressive laws and social change. The queer archive, gathered over time through multifarious processes evokes both a sense of loss and recuperation. As a location for memory that historically has been entrenched in erasure, this essay considers how historical violence can be reorganized through anti-oppressive frameworks, where the counter-archive has agency to speak for itself. Theoretical models such as the ‘gathering together’ of data that consigns subjectivity and unifies concepts of social knowledge (Derrida, Archive Fever) is explored through a suspicion of archival logic that historically advanced social control and violence (Rancière, Politics, Identification, and Subjectivization; Sekula, The Body and The Archive). The case study is Mabel Hampton, an African-American lesbian, whose legacy is preserved at the Lesbian Herstory Archive (LHA). Hampton donated her large collection to LHA as a politicized act of queer remembrance. While, I argue the social body was a triumph for the bourgeois order, where political economy was entwined into capitalism and imperialism, and sexual conduct was converted into political behavior, Mabel Hampton demonstrates that axiomatic domination of paternal state violence can be ruptured. In her own words, her story is entrenched in systematic violence of poverty, incarceration and rape, and is a collection of exile and refusal as well as persistence and survival (Love, Feeling Backward).


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