Endangered Archives

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EAP128: Thai rainbow archives project: a digitised collection of Thai gay, lesbian and transgender publications

The emergence of open gay, lesbian, and transgender (GLT) cultures in major world cities is a sociologically significant phenomenon. The Thai capital Bangkok is home to some of Asia's oldest and largest GLT communities. Only a decade ago, Asian GLT studies was a neglected if not taboo field. However, the 1st International Conference of Asian Queer Studies in Bangkok in 2005 demonstrated the rapid maturing of this new field. Research libraries though have not kept up with this rapid academic development, and for a variety of reasons have not collected the publications of Thai GLT communities.

Since the 1970s, Thailand's GLT communities have produced large quantities of Thai language publications including multi-issue periodicals and magazines and community organization newsletters. This large volume of vernacular materials, totalling several thousand items, documents the history of one of the world's most important non-Western homosexual/transgender cultures and is a largely untouched research trove. Thailand's GLT magazines are an academic resource of genuine international importance.

While extensive, like the communities they represent, Thai GLT magazines are socially marginalised and culturally stigmatised. Thai GLT publications have often been ephemeral and of an underground nature known only to the members of these marginalised communities themselves. They have rarely been distributed through mainstream bookstores or magazine outlets. As a result, there is currently no public archive of Thai GLT vernacular materials anywhere in the world, and research in this field is seriously hindered by this institutional deficiency. These materials are in danger of being destroyed and disappearing completely in the next few years. Since no Thai or Western library or archive has collected these materials, the only remaining copies are in the hands of private collectors.

This project is part of an attempt by Thai community organisations, working in collaboration with the Australian National University, to preserve materials that have not been collected by any Thai institutional archive. In order to set the groundwork for this project, the Principal Applicant has already spent the past year working in collaboration with Thai community organisations to physically salvage the materials that will be digitised. These materials have never previously been collected in one location. This project also operates under the added disadvantage of a local situation where some authorities view the materials as deserving of destruction rather than preservation.

Visit the Thai Rainbow Archive website.

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EAP128/1: "Thai Rainbow Archives Collection: A digitised collection of Thai gay, lesbian and transgender publications [1982-2009]"

"Digital images of Thai gay, lesbian and transgender magazines and newspapers produced from the early 1980s to the early 21st century. 32 titles were digitised, 652 issues in total. The collection contains: Newsletters published by community organisations for their members and intended for distribution and circulation only within each organisation; and Commercial magazines that were published for sale and distributed publicly, both from newsagents and by mail order."

EAP128/1/30: Thai Guys [1999-2004]

EAP128/1/30/16: Thai Guys issue 16 [2002]

Extent: 37 TIFF images
Level: File
Scope and Content:
Collector "Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre, Thailand", 1992-
Language(s) English
Script(s) Latin
Legal & Ethical Usage Policy Access is for research purposes only