Constellations: The Limits and Inspirations of Mapping Queer Cities of Survival & Desire

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The path to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) liberation has been narrated through a claim to long-term territory in the form of urban neighborhoods and bars. Lesbians and queers fail to attain or retain these spaces over generations—as is often the case due to lesser political and economic power—so what then is the lesbian-queer production of urban space in their own words and images? Building from, and extending, the arguments of my book, A Queer New York, I led the design, development, and construction of a digital, interactive maps in An Everyday Queer New York: Mapping LGBTQ NYC History (AEQNY, AEQNY maps over 3,000 NYC-based places in lesbian-queer organizational records and media publications from Brooklyn’s Lesbian Herstory Archives spanning 25 years. In this talk, I examine how the AEQNY mapping project and related LGBTQ interactive mapping projects such a Queering the Map and LGBTQ HistoryPinafford three insights. First, I speak to new ways of thinking about the contributions of geospatial “big” data: namely, how most big data is created and recorded in ways that reproduce systems of oppression, while the marginalized are often left with little or no data of their own to map their own stories. Second, while these maps enhance public understanding of LGBTQ history through mapping vast archival materials, less obvious is the skilled, collaborative labor required to produce and maintain such maps. Finally, in comparing my queer feminist theoretical contribution of the inherent relationality of lesbian-queer spaces as constellations, I examine how GIS mapping both expands and limits how we record, portray, and imagine lesbian-queer geographies. DR. GIESEKING’S BIO: Jen Jack Gieseking is a cultural and economic geographer engaged in research on co-productions of space and identity in digital and material environments. Their work pays special attention to how such productions support or inhibit social, spatial, and economic justice in regard to gender and sexuality. He is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Kentucky, where he teaches courses on digital, feminist, and queer geographies and critical cartography and mapping. Jack’s book, A Queer New York: Geographies of Lesbians, Dykes, and Queers, is the first lesbian historical geography of New York City, and forthcoming from NYU Press. Their mixed ethnographic / archival approach resulted in his rethinking the construction of “data” to produce a series of LGBTQ data visualizations about queer history, a project of visualizing the invisible. These data visualizations aim to produce a space for collaborative, public queer history, and include an interactive map of over 1,600 lesbian-queer places to date spanning 1983 to 2008 onAn Everyday Queer New York website, a complement to the book. Jack’s larger, long-term project of queering data ethics primarily draws from his research on trans people’s use of Tumblr as a site of cultural production, and a hub for co-produced health and well-being knowledge. They can be found at or @jgieseking. Jack uses he/him/his and they/them/theirs pronouns.
GIS Day, Queer Studies, Mapping, Digital Humanities
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