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The queering of history: The development of queer-history in Scandinavia
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.
2007 (English)In: Scandia, ISSN 0036-5483, Vol. 73, no 3, 86-112 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article discusses the implications of queer theory for historical research, assessing the effects of three theoretical challenges, namely the shift of emphasis from studying the different to studying the norm; the deconstruction of identities; and the discontinuity of history, in particular the questioning of teleological historiography. The general tendency of historians to search for significant causes has prevented many of them from studying the deviant, the author argues, and a shift to studying normalising forces in history then becomes particularly difficult. Furthermore, the author comments on the controversy between David Halperin and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and defends Halperin's understanding of historicity, understood as an argument for the study of historical change. An analysis of power relations and normalising structures risks becoming static, thus obfuscating the understanding of change and the forces opposing oppressive normative discourses, he claims. Finally, the discontinuity of history is addressed through a critical assessment of an ongoing discussion about the ""queering of time,"" which literary scholar Elizabeth Freeman has called ""the turn toward time."" The author argues that a radical reconceptualization of historical time has but a small chance to gain credibility within the historical field, and defends historical method with critical evaluation of sources, intersubjective corroboration, and causal explanations. On the other hand, he welcomes the theoretical insights presented by queer theory as far as they concern the choice of a study object, and their challenges to a simplified conceptualisation of same-sex desire. The second half of the article is an overview of the roots of queer history in Scandinavia, and the present state of the field. Lesbian and gay scholars from Denmark, Finland, and Sweden attended social constructivist conferences in Amsterdam in the 1980s and brought home important insights concerning lesbian and gay history. The queer turn of social studies was also prepared by a lesbian feminist thinker like Adrienne Rich, translated to Swedish in 1983. The first generation of lesbian and gay historians in Denmark, Finland and Norway presented work in a social constructivist vein in the late 1980s. The next generation included scholars in Nor-way and Iceland, and developed queer theory as an analytical tool. There is now a lively network of Scandinavian queer researchers presenting their work both in mainstream academic publications, and in specialised journals like Lambda Nordica, based in Sweden, and the bilingual SQS in Finland.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 73, no 3, 86-112 p.
Keyword [en]
queer theory, gay history, Scandinavia, history, time, identity
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-55229ISI: 000256414000005OAI: diva2:402222
authorCount :1Available from: 2011-03-07 Created: 2011-03-07 Last updated: 2011-03-07Bibliographically approved

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