Co-producing Digital Archives with 2LGBTQ+ Atlantic Canadian Youth amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Emerald Publishing Limited


Purpose: We explore the co-production of a digital archive with 50 2SLGBTQ+ youth across Atlantic Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to catalyze broader public participation in understanding 2SLGBTQ+ youth-led activism in this place and time through art production. Design/methodology/approach: Through a mail-based participatory visual research project, and an examination of collage, zines, and DIY facemasks, we highlight how the production, sharing, and archiving of youth-produced art adds to methodological discussions of exhibiting and digital archiving with 2SLGBTQ+ youth as a form of activist intervention. Findings: In reflexively examining the co-curation of our art through social media and project website, we argue that co-producing digital archives is an important part of knowledge mobilization. Also, we consider how the work has been interacted with by a broader public, so far in an exclusively celebratory manner, and note the benefits and challenges of this type of engagement to the youth and to our understandings of 2SLGBTQ+ youth archives. Originality: We suggest that these modes of engaging in participatory visual research at a distance offers original contributions in relation to how participation can be understood in a digital and mail-based project. We see participant-control of how to share our works within our digital archives as a contribution to our understanding of people’s capacity to negotiate and take ownership of these spaces. These strategies are participant-centred and suggest ways that archiving can be made more accessible especially when working with communities who are socially marginalized or otherwise excluded from the archival process.