This talk focuses on a version of digital history that emphasizes queer and trans community-engaged public, digital history research. The presentation will focus on the Pussy Palace Oral History Project, which documents the last police raid of a queer bathhouse in Canadian history in September 2000. The Pussy Palace was a series of trans-inclusive queer women’s sex parties that took place in Toronto in the late 1990s and early 2000s and marks a period of radical sex organizing in Canadian queer history. Our team collected 36 interviews with bathhouse patrons, event organizers, and community activists, allowing us to historicize this event within the longer history of Toronto police hostility towards non-normative sexuality, exemplified by the gay male-focused bathhouse raids of 1975-1984.
There are several larger questions framing the research, which the talk will address. These include competing understandings of “digital history” as a field: What is “digital history” as a field, and how have scholars understood the relationship between historical method and the digital? Drawing on US historiography, I will situate my oral history work within an alternative genealogy of digital humanities outlined by Tara McPherson (2018), one that reminds of us the centrality of visuality, aesthetics, and the sensory to DH’s longer history as a field and practice.
A second question concerns digital oral history projects in general: given how little audience engagement there is with on-line, digitized oral histories, how can oral historians reach a broader public with our work? Social media has changed how people encounter historical knowledge. Yet public history, as a field, hasn’t fully grappled with the relationship between social media and historical knowledge in the context of public engagement with the past. To reach a broader public with our oral history research, we have been experimenting with various forms of digital research creation. The talk will showcase some of our research creation strategies in addressing this challenge, including audio portraits, video shorts, and a digital exhibition as public humanities strategies in both community collaboration and public engagement.
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digitalhistory (2023, 27. Juni). Elspeth Brown: Queering Digital History: The Pussy Palace Oral History Project. Digital History Berlin. Abgerufen am 4. März 2024, von https://doi.org/10.58079/nl4s