Be/longing in the archival body: eros and the “Endearing” value of material lives

Abstract

This paper explores the nature of the archival body and the ways in which it is temporally situated and yet also always in motion. Applying transdisciplinary logics, it argues that the affective nature of archival productions follows the machinations of metamorphoses and (un)becoming. Using two queer/ed and transgender archives as sites of inquiry, the paper explores the erotic and affective nature of accessing the archival body in its multimodal forms. Although touching, smelling and stroking what remains of distinct material lives might elucidate arousal and certain other affective and haptic responses within the visitor to the archives, the records themselves hold and cradle their creators and their storytelling techniques along with their relationships to longing for and belonging in the archival body of knowledge. This approach suggests that understanding of the record and its affects can be enriched by temporal perspectives that acknowledge distinct and diverse temporalities and promote generative understandings of potentially meaningful progressions of time and everyday rhythms embodied within archival materials.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    I use the forward slash in queer/ed to highlight the movement between a present and past tense verb. Importantly, this word choice is a deliberate move toward the verb to queer as a way to subvert the normative. The slash ‘/’ for me also represents the taking apart and simultaneous coming together, much like (un)becoming metamorphoses, which implicates embodiment.

  2. 2.

    See Freedman (1998), Muñoz (2006) and Hernández (2015) for historical lived tracings of the emotional thresholds and self-regulation of LGBTQ peoples.

  3. 3.

    In a 2006 online interview, Ari states “I did not identify as bisexual until late in the ‘90s. However, I did label myself as androgyne-bigender. I defined the terms operationally, i.e. living comfortably in either conventional gender role for most social situations and taking what I consider the most positive aspects from each” (www.myhusbandbetty.com/2006/05/24/five-questions-with-ariadne-kane/).

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Correspondence to Jamie A. Lee.

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Lee, J.A. Be/longing in the archival body: eros and the “Endearing” value of material lives. Arch Sci 16, 33–51 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-016-9264-x

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Keywords

  • Queer
  • Embodiment
  • Affect
  • Belonging
  • Temporality
  • Archival body