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With origins in one of the first published works in English focused on the comparative politics of LGBT issues in Latin America, The Politics of Sexuality in Latin America, co-edited by Javier Corrales and Mario Pecheny (University of Pittsburgh Press. 2010), the LGBT timeline project initiates an important digital resource for future scholarship in this area. The timeline captures and make openly available standardized event data about global LGBT activism. Primary source material and digital media documenting those events enhance event descriptions. The timeline incorporates text analysis and data visualization tools; to create an open resource for students, scholars, and activists to study and to contribute additional data; and be integrated into specific courses at Amherst College, UMass Amherst, the Five Colleges and beyond. By recording and making information on regional events, and social, political and legal precedents pertaining to LGBT status across the Americas accessible, the we intend re-frame the often U.S.-centric discourse on this subject. In so doing, this resource advances the study of LGBT issues by putting key comparative data about an evolving transnational and global scene within reach of students, scholars, and the public for the first time.
As an open access, web-based resource, this project provides exciting opportunities for educators, researchers, and the general public to explore and contribute to its contents. In contrast with existing forms of scholarly presentations, the timeline has no physical constraints to its availability, requires no membership to academic databases, and allows access for anyone with an Internet connection. It reflects current trends to make academic research widely available to the general public, and opens new possibilities for students, researchers and the community at large to engage in scholarship.
For educators, the timeline can serve as a teaching tool and as an introduction to humanities research. The plethora of organized information and the visual components of the entries make the timeline an attractive and educational locale for students to explore the LGBT history of the Americas and the impact of the political struggle toward equality in the region. As a teaching tool, the timeline can stand on its own or be consulted in concert with other materials, such as readings, archives and multimedia sources. By presenting a historical overview supported by extensive notes and citations of primary and secondary sources, the timeline allows students to investigate a particular aspect of the history and support their own projects in such disciplines as gender and sexuality studies, Latino studies, history, sociology and political science.
Faculty partners already have plans to integrate the timeline into their courses. Professor Capó plans a graduate course titled “Sexualities in the Americas” that will further strengthen and connect with the main objectives for the digital project. As part of UMass’s graduate Public History Program, Capó will incorporate the students’ own interest and knowledge in the subject matter to the existing timeline. Capó will create graduate-level exercises that will train students in the practice and use of public history and the digital humanities.
For researchers, the timeline facilitates future research on the topic by presenting a quick, efficient way to examine the movement from various perspectives and to visualize the data in a variety of ways. More importantly, the open form of the timeline will invite collaboration within the academic community, including the Five College Consortium, where it adds a valuable resource and possible template for further digital scholarship initiatives within the Five College Certificate in Queer and Sexuality Studies. There are also several possible points of connection through study abroad programs throughout the Five Colleges, such as the Hampshire College Cuba program. Project partners establish an editorial process to maintain the project going forward. Researchers are able to submit additions, updates and make revisions. Given the politically sensitive nature of the content, we plan to have a panel of administrators reviewing any suggested changes from outside sources, so that we will be able to keep the timeline current without losing its integrity and reliability.
Finally, unlike most existing scholarly research, the timeline invites the community at large to engage with and use its information. The timeline will bridge the gap between scholarly work and public curiosity, giving readers creative venues to harness its information, whether for activist work, public education, or personal use.