'Does it matter?': Relocating fragments of queer heritage in post-earthquake Christchurch



Publication Details

Gorman-Murray, A. & McKinnon, S. (2018). 'Does it matter?': Relocating fragments of queer heritage in post-earthquake Christchurch. In W. Grahn & R. J. Wilson (Eds.), Gender and Heritage: Performance, Place and Politics (pp. 239-252). Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.


'Does it matter?' This was a response from an interviewee, a 60-something gay man (Interview 9: 02/06/2015), to our question about the loss of contemporary and historical LGBT 1 social spaces in Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand, after the earthquake that devastated the city on 22 February 2011. As we outline later in this chapter, this was among the most destructive disasters to strike the country, causing massive damage to buildings and infrastructure, as well as 185 deaths and many more non-fatal injuries (Swaffield 2013). Yet for other respondents, the loss of space mattered a great deal. A 30-something lesbian told us that 'the impact on LGBT social spaces was and is huge' (Survey 91: 15/04/2015), while a 50-something gay man claimed that 'life in the LGBT community died after the earthquake' (Survey 20: 23/04/2015). These divergent responses to material losses to the LGBT community compel us to explore the meaning of queer heritage - by which we mean LGBT spaces and the communities of practice that they enable - in post-earthquake Christchurch. Following Denis Byrne (2005: 1), we understand queer heritage in the Asia-Pacific as a 'queer geography' that materialises 'a tradition of what it has meant to be queer in this part of the world'. This heritage is tangible and intangible, encompassing places, landscapes and the practices, memories and meanings associated with those sites.

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