From Past To Present: How 'Cruising The 70s' Can Help Society

Flag | © Ted Eytan/Flickr
Flag | © Ted Eytan/Flickr
Photo of Tori Chalmers
15 September 2016

The Edinburgh College of Art’s innovative queer history project is in full swing. After securing €1.19 million in funding from HERA, ‘Cruising The 70s’ launched on 15th July, 2016. The aim of this three-year project is to further research and unravel information from the past, as a means of shedding light on potential remedies to cure present pressing societal issues involving the European LGBTQ community.

‘Cruising the 70s’ is just one of 18 projects chosen especially by HERA out of a whopping 605 submissions for their ‘Uses of the Past’ scheme. With Dr Glyn Davis (School of Design) at the helm of this particular project, the outcome is sure to be one of significant substance. The research team involved in this LGBTQ project includes partner institutions and 19 associate partners spanning across Spain, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Professor Juan Suarez (University of Murica), Professor Andreas Krass (Humboldt University, Berlin), Dr Tomasz Basiuk (University of Warsaw), and Dr Fiona Anderson (Newcastle University) are the co-authors of the project proposal and Principal Investigators of the project itself.

The team has made it its mission to delve deeper than ever before into the myriad of queer archival materials across Europe from the 1970s. It is imperative to resurrect such materials, as they are in grave danger of being lost or pushed to the periphery. One of the primary aims is to question the use and value that encapsulates them. Additionally, the team wishes to decipher whether or not the findings can hold any significance for contemporary LGBTQ peoples.

Old Letters | ©

‘Cruising the 70s’ can be considered a commendable movement that understands the prevalence of digging up items from the past in order to positively impact the present. It is with this notion that the research team will address pressing cultural and societal issues revolving around the concept of identity, creativity, and cultural dynamics regarding LGBTQ members of society. In turn, issues of political legitimacy and integration will also be brought to fruition.

The unearthed materials will act as an invaluable tool — a tool which offers numerous ways to gain more clarity of queer politics and identity issues in the present and also future. Most importantly, through a lengthy exploration of past histories of persecution, discrimination, protests, and responses to HIV/Aids pandemics (to name a few), this project hopes to challenge and extinguish — whether verbal, physical, or mental — any homophobic societal tendencies across Europe. This innovative research has the ability to truly spark imperative discourses and transform previous knowledge involving queer history while presenting a positive contemporary reframing amongst European culture today.

During the course of this momentous three-year research project, ‘Cruising the 70s’ will display a series of sizeable conferences, exhibitions, symposia, and more intimate smaller-scale satellite events.

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