The Past's Digital Presence, February 19-20, 2010

Title

04 - Digital Politics and Society: "OutHistory.org: An Experiment in LGBTQ Community History-Making"

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-20-2010

Abstract

This paper describes the challenges and successes involved in launching OutHistory.org, a MediaWiki website on LGBTQ US history hosted by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. OutHistory.org’s most radical feature is not its subject matter, but its message that people outside of academia can contribute to the historical understanding of sexuality: OutHistory.org invites everyone to be an historian. This aspect of OutHistory.org has raised some resistance from scholars who fear that community-created histories are unreliable and insubstantial. At the same time, building a community of active users who contribute to OutHistory.org has been much harder than its creators imagined. Digital humanities are often described as capable of democratizing knowledge production. Using OutHistory.org as a test case, this paper will examine how the democratic potential of the digital humanities is, in practice, very difficult to achieve.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access

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