What Is a Lesbian Document? Platforming Archival Description, Documents, and History in Sweden


As Joanna Drucker (2014) convincingly argues, “Most information visualizations are acts of interpretation masquerading as presentation (p. 10). This article investigates the visuality and built-in argumentations of the Alvin interface for digitized Swedish cultural heritage, focusing on how the platform defines a document and the effects this definition has on the accessibility and interconnectedness of documents related to lesbian and feminist histories. This paper addresses how (failed) systematization and an emphasis on large quantities of documents and metadata breathes new life into outdated historiographies and renders documents and information related to feminist and lesbian histories and connections between these histories invisible. In doing so, platforms reinstitute divisions and stereotypes about feminist and lesbian history criticized by Adrienne Rich in her seminal essay “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” Platform designers must begin to take seriously queer and feminist researchers\u27 emphasis on context and the need to build flexibility, interconnectivity across private/public boundaries, fuzziness, and incompleteness into cultural heritage platforms from the outset

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This paper was published in The University of Akron.

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