Hiraeth, or Queering Time in Archives Otherwise
Onyeka Igwe and JD Stokely
Abstract: Archives are the physical manifestations of our collective understanding of history, a way of proving and so legitimising the existence of cultures, practices, and peoples. However, for queer and trans people of colour (QTPOC), entrance into the archive is not easily permitted; the truths of their lives have been, and are presently, excluded, claimed as contingent and/or rendered “folk”—lesser forms of knowledge. “Hiraeth” is a Welsh word that is difficult to translate into English. It speaks of a longing or homesickness for a place that is no longer, or never was. For QTPOC, the archive is this, a hiraeth space. We use “hiraeth” to describe the liminal space in which experiences of home, media practices, and a relationship to the archive can exist. As two Black queer artists who in their work have been exploring ways to implode the archive, in this article we look at how our practices can expand what the archive holds and further provide a space to render the untranslatable, the im/possible, as archive material. It is a strategy of both redefinition and defiance.