Why (Queer) History Matters: The Politics of History

Censorship. Illustration by Eric Drooker.
Censorship. Illustration by Eric Drooker.
International, interdisciplinary conference at the University of Bergen, 29–30 August 2022.

Neglect and erasure of queer history has been the norm in all national histories until quite recently. In this conference we address how this highly problematic practice of history can also enable the eradication of LGBT+ rights in contemporary societies. For, in some places LGBT communities are seen as a national threat while in others, homo-tolerance is instrumentalized to build national self-identity. In both cases, interest in and knowledge of queer history is usually absent. In this conference we therefore ask: How are national histories cleansed of unwanted elements? What role does ignorance and censorship play? Can the lack of knowledge of queer history be fundamental to contemporary oppression of queers? If so, what can be done to preserve and disseminate queer histories?

In this conference we hear reflections and examples on how and why queer history matters in different contexts. Norway officially opened its national queer archive here in Bergen in 2015, and queer history is slowly starting to appear as a legitimate academic field in line with other academic fields of research also in Norway.



29 August


Registration. Possibility of guided tour in the queer history exhibition at the University Museum of Bergen 


Norway & the queer history context – the Norwegian Queer archive by Tone Hellesund, Professor of Cultural Studies, University of Bergen


The roots of Russian homophobia, and why historical research matters by Dan Healey, Professor of Russian History, University of Oxford


Queer history and neoliberal Islam by Evren Savci, Assistant Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University


Postsocialist homophobia and the lesson of histories past, present, and future by Hadley Z. Renkin, Assistant Professor in Gender Studies, Central European University


How to document and tell queer history? 
Public event at Litteraturhuset (not streamed). Screening of Susan Stryker’s film Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria (57 minutes) followed by a roundtable discussion involving Susan Stryker, Hadley Renkin, C. Anzio Jacobs, Dan Healey, Svati Shah.

30 August


Queer archives and activism in India by Jayna Kothari, Executive Director at Centre for Law & Policy Research and Akkai Padmashali, Indian transgender activist


White words & violence: A queer African herstory by C. Anzio Jacobs, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Scope Non-Profit Organisation, South Africa


Queer history in the USA. The development of trans history and the uses of transgender history for the present by Susan Stryker, Professor, Barbara Lee Distinguished Chair in Women's Leadership, Mills College


The politics of sexuality in Latin America by Javier Corrales, Professor of Political Science at Amherst College


Sexualities and the uses of history in different African contexts by Sylvia Tamale, Professor of Law, Makerere University


Mapping queerness in postcolonial South Asian worlds by Svati Shah, Associate Professor, Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Roundtable: The promise and future of queer history making. All speakers are welcome to attend this roundtable


Queer history exhibition at the University Museum of Bergen. Possibility of guided tour.



The conference will take place in the University Aula in Bergen. It will be possible to participate both physical and digital.

Price: 200 NOK for physical participation (includes lunch)

Registration opens in April 2022. 


Conference organizing committee


Conference web page.