NnAQH ▰ Blog: How it all started
How it all started
24 August 2023 | Written by Pia Laskar, secretary of QRAB and project leader of NNAQH.
After a panel discussion on the importance of queer archives and queer history research, some archivists from the panel went to a bar to discuss how to network the queer past into the future.
On a grey October evening, when we assembled over a beer at a bar in Gothenburg, we’d already met one another. Most likely at different conferences and seminars. In Sweden, queer archivism was blooming, and we were referring to it as a queer archivist turn. We had TUM, QRAB, SAQMI, Rosa Brus, LM… all collecting and discussing the importance of preserving and making queer pasts accessible. We were all archivists, maybe professionals, however running our archives voluntarily.
Earlier that day, we had all taken part in a panel discussion regarding what a queer archive is and the importance of researching and collecting queer pasts. The panel was a part of g19, an international gender conference on Knowledge Regimes: Solidarities and Contestations, the latter organised by the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research. The panel was organized partly by QRAB and financed by a then operating but now sleeping network.
Both Tone Hellesund from Skeivt Arkiv (SkA) and Anna Linder from Swedish Archive for Queer Moving Images (SAQMI) were positive to QRABs idea on building a Nordic network for queer archives. So was Rita Paqvalén from Friends of Queer History (FQH). As FQH isn’t an archive, we broaden the network idea to include organisations working with queer history in a broader sense. We all had the need to share knowledge about our collections, structural and organizational differences, and similarities, as well as ways of getting funded. And not the least, get to know other queer archivists from different countries.
As the bar started to fill up with both people and noise, we decided that I should apply – I was then working as a researcher at Sweden’s National Historical Museum whilst volunteering as secretary of QRAB – and involve the attending organisations as partners in a network. I recall we had a couple of video meetings thereafter – and that SAQMI wasn’t able to attend them, thus they fell out of the discussions.
Then the covid pandemic paralyzed the world and my research project came to an end at the museum, (resulting in among other interventions an open access book called Den outställda sexualiteten). When Rosa Brus suddenly started to work towards a Swedish queer archival network, the idea of a Nordic network was still alive in QRAB.
Then one day in spring 2022, a call from NIKK and the Nordic Council of Ministers landed neatly on my computer screen. The board of QRAB discussed the call and saw the possibilities of getting funds for a Nordic and Baltic network for queer archives and history. We decided to give it a try. Conveniently Skeivt Archive was organizing an international conference in Bergen in August 2022, on Why Queer History Matters. QRAB and Friends of Queer History went to Norway to attend. Olov Kriström and I from QRAB gathered with Runar Jordåen från SA and Rita Paqvalén from FQH for a quick meeting between two conference sessions – and decided to give the call a go. We became partners in an application for a network, but also wanted to include contacts in Baltikum and in the rest of the Nordic countries in it.
The positive answer from NIKK slipped into my inbox on my birthday in November 2022. And here we are, after several digital meetings. A new website launched and a seminar in Helsinki in sight with participants from various Nordic and Baltic countries. Welcome to join us on this journey!
Keywords: queer, archive, history, network, Nordic countries, Balticum