Historian and media scholar Dr. Jesper Verhoef of Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) has been selected by the National Library (KB) in The Hague as KB Researcher-in-Residence 2023. Jesper has received a grant because of his groundbreaking research. He will spend six months researching the crucial role the web plays in the lives of LGBTQI+ communities.
The ‘queer web sphere’
In his research, Jespers asks what the Dutch 'queer web sphere' looked like and what changes it has undergone. In doing so, he shines a light and contributes to the emancipation(struggle) of queers, a group that is often invisible in historical work. And that, according to Jesper, is very important: “The Dutch are said to be tolerant towards LGBTQI+ communities, but research shows that this is very disappointing in practice. Visibility – also in historical research – is crucial to improve this.”
A unique web collection as research source
During his research, Jesper delves into the unique collection of hundreds of LGBTQI+ websites that the KB has archived in recent years. The internet occupies an important place in contemporary life for decades and is therefore also an important source for historical research.
Because the web collection can only be consulted within the walls of the KB due to copyright, it is hardly used. That’s a shame, says Verhoef. “As a result, an essential part of our recent history has gone unexamined. This is particularly problematic for minority histories such as LGBTQI+ communities. The internet offers them information, support, and the opportunity to make their voices heard.”
And that's not all. Jesper has even been awarded a second grant. From July to September 2023, he will be a Research Fellow at the renowned Center for Advanced Internet Studies in Bochum, where he will work on the same project.