SpecialQueering Memory: ALMS Conference 2019 in Berlin

ALMS is a series of international conferences focused on public, private, academic, and grassroots archives collecting and preserving materials of all types from LGBTIQ+ communities. As museums portray the mainstream culture, queer museums with their colorful displays of personal belongings, letters, photographs and art in general collect elements for portraying a different aesthetics and preserving alternative memories.

For this special curators, editors, researchers and journalist, chronographers of past and present times tell their stories and share their experiences – and the sacrifices they have made for the work they do.

Das Bild zeigt ein Gruppenfoto mit Menschen in BerlinGruppenfoto der ALMS-Konferenz in Berlin

Archives are places where we store our collective memories, that what is important for future generations, the stories of us and those before us told through documents. Archival material is a looking glass into the past of our society, into the way of life and what it looked like for the generations of long ago. What doesn’t exist in the archives might as well have not happened. Yet so many things have gone unnoticed, undocumented and therefore unobservable. The lives of those on the fringes of society, those which were deemed taboo, those shoved away by society and hidden from sight in order to preserve the image society wanted to create for itself.

Queer archives are places where these alternative accounts are stored, documented, preserved for posterity. Places which prove that LGBTIQ+ communities and individuals existed, that they had their own sub-cultures, that they made a mark on society even from the shadows they were forced to reside in. They are physical and digital depositories of knowledge and data valuable for researchers but also for LGBTIQ+ communities, activists and all members of society.

ALMS is a series of international conferences focused on public, private, academic, and grassroots archives collecting and preserving materials of all types from LGBTIQ+ communities. Its mission is to ensure that our history continues to be preserved and shared. The series was initiated in 2006 in Minnesota and the last two conferences took place in Amsterdam in 2012 and in London in 2016. These conferences provide an opportunity for archivists, activists and scholars from around the world to gather, share their stories and discuss the issues around documenting LGBTIQ+ lives.

ALMS is an exceptional event as it offers the encouraging experience of being part of an international network overcoming borders and on track for the future. In 2019, the conference took place in Berlin and was supported by the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung. It was attended by 530 participants from more than 40 countries worldwide.