Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies
Dr. Fiona P. McDonald (Anthropology) and
Dr. Emily Christina Murphy (English and Digital Humanities)
UBC Public Scholars Award
The exclusion of queer histories in public spaces in many places around the world is significant. It is most resonant throughout cultural memory at sites of heritage tourism (e.g. walking tours), memory institutions (e.g. museums), and public sites of commemoration (e.g. monuments and plaques). This erasure has ongoing negative consequences for 2SLGBTQIA+ communities (collectively known as queer communities) around the world contributing to experiences of isolation, marginalization, and invalidation (Ryberg 2020; Kumbier 2014). The erasure of queer voices in public spaces reenforces dominant narratives of heteronormativity and contributes to a lack of representation and diverse perspectives in social and political contexts. Today, queer publics seek new ways to re-engage with their marginalized histories (Love 2007; Nealon 2001). As a queer scholar, my doctoral project focuses on one in-depth case study, Paris as Site of Queer Memories, to understand what role immersive digital storytelling that integrates location-based Augmented Reality (AR) can have to remediate historical and ongoing erasure of queer voices in public spaces.
Kumbier, Alana. 2014. Ephemeral Material: Queering the Archive. Sacramento: Litwin Books. https://go.exlibris.link/NCbRLDRn.
Love, Heather. 2007. Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Nealon, Christopher. 2001. Foundlings: Lesbian and Gay Historical Emotion before Stonewall. Foundlings. Durham: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9780822380610.
Ryberg, Ingrid. 2020. “Queer Cultural Memory.” Lambda Nordica 25 (1): 122:26. https://doi.org/10.34041/ln.v25.624
WHAT DOES BEING A PUBLIC SCHOLAR MEAN TO YOU?
Being a public scholar means the opportunity to actively and ethically seek out relational ways to make my research practices and outputs accessible to the public outside of the university. I am interested in public scholarship that is engaging, multimodal, and tells a story such as video, audio, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR).
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU THINK THE PHD EXPERIENCE CAN BE RE-IMAGINED WITH THE PUBLIC SCHOLARS INITIATIVE?
The Public Scholars Initiative encourages students to reimagine the PhD experience through experimenting with non-traditional research outputs. The financial support, and the connection to resources and community infrastructure, opens up opportunities for students like myself to explore innovative ways of sharing knowledge and information that are publicly relevant. For me, the Public Scholars Initiative is critical to supporting me to create a mobile augmented reality application that will amplify a significant, but often invisible, moment of queer history with a case study in Paris, France.
HOW DO YOU ENVISION CONNECTING YOUR PHD WORK WITH BROADER CAREER POSSIBILITIES?
As a professional librarian, I am aware of the systems of power and privilege that operate within public memory institutions (i.e. galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) and how these institutions uphold white supremacy, colonialism, and heteronormativity. I am therefore interested in reframing the way we observe and acknowledge these histories in relation to and with feminist technologies. I believe my PhD work will support me to become a better researcher and support equity and inclusion with fellow researchers on both UBC campuses.
HOW DOES YOUR RESEARCH ENGAGE WITH THE LARGER COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL PARTNERS?
I will be participating in queer communities in Paris, France to undertake both walking ethnographies and prototyping AR to facilitate a digital walking tour on queer and marginalized histories. For the participatory-based methods phase of my project, I will encourage participation from 2SLGBTQIA+ people in Paris whose identities intersect with other underrepresented groups. The relationships in my project emerge from my collaboration with Heidi Evans, Paris tour guide and creator of the Women of Paris Walks. Women of Paris Walks is “the first Paris walking tours devoted entirely to women’s history and influence.” Evans is my formal collaborator on this award. With Evans, the PSI will allow me to develop this collaboration further, resulting in public-facing benefits such as increased access to public queer histories.
YOU HOPE YOUR WORK CAN MAKE A CONTRIBUTION TO THE PUBLIC GOOD?
My doctoral work will contribute to the public good in two ways. First, by creating an AR application I will open up access to history and knowledge that will amplify a significant, but often invisible, moment of queer history. As curator Anna Conlan (2010) argues, “omission from the museum does not simply mean marginalization; it formally classifies certain lives, histories, and practices as insignificant, renders them invisible, marks them as unintelligible, and thereby casts them into the realm of the unreal” (257). In this first output, my project actively seeks to locate and remediate this erasure of specific queer and feminist histories in Paris which will have intended positive outcomes for queer communities. Second, my doctoral work will contribute to the knowledge of augmented reality and its role in the remediation of marginalized histories in public and with publics, which will have an impact on multiple cultural heritage institutions including, but not limited to, libraries, archives, and museums.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE A GRADUATE DEGREE?
I decided to pursue a graduate degree to expand my interdisciplinary research skills and develop new and creative ways of thinking about knowledge mobilization. The motivation for this project comes from my positionality as a queer scholar who understands, on both a personal and professional level, the historical erasures that I have identified in Paris and to question the role that emerging technologies, such as augmented reality, play in re-situating the erasure of histories.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO UBC OKANAGAN AND STUDY?
I chose the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies Program at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan (UBCO) because my project is highly interdisciplinary and benefits from the support, expertise, and supervision of scholars in areas such as English, Digital Humanities, Anthropology, History, and Geography. Additionally, I have the privilege of working under the supervision of Dr. Fiona P. McDonald (Anthropology) and Dr. Emily Christina Murphy (English and Digital Humanities) at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. As a research affiliate with each of their research labs, Collaborative + Experimental Ethnography Lab (McDonald) and (Re)Media Research and Creation Infrastructure (Murphy), I have access to fieldwork training and technologies to undertake my research in ethnography and research-creation.
Donna Langille is a UBC Okanagan Public Scholar. Learn more about the Public Scholars Initiative (PSI).