Women, Gender, Sexuality & the Archive


An international and collaborative project, Women, Gender, Sexuality & the Archive investigates the relationship between women in politics and the construction of political histories through a focus on the historical development of archives in the twentieth century. In particular it examines how women’s increased access to public office in the twentieth century affected their capacity to create and record history. Did women political actors use this power to expand narrow definitions of the political or adhere to masculine definitions which enforced boundaries between the public and private spheres? Did women’s ability to control the archive always promote or also limit their access to political power in the twentieth century? If, as Derrida argued, there is no political power without control of the archive, does it follow that control of the archive helped women access political power? These questions are as vital today as they were to activists, historians and public officials in the twentieth century. The challenges posed by the development of virtual archives and  funding cuts reminds us that what we choose to collect and how and to whom we present the records of our past tells us much about our present. The privileging of certain archives reveals much about how leaders in higher education, public policy and politics, control public understanding of the past to support their programmes for the future. To prepare for the online archive of the twenty-first century, it is essential to understand how political actors have shaped archives of the century past.