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Reconfiguring the shipping news : Maritime's hidden histories and the politics of gender display

Meecham, Pam (2008) Reconfiguring the shipping news : Maritime's hidden histories and the politics of gender display. Sex Education, 8 (3). pp. 371-380. ISSN 1468-1811

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Abstract

This paper discusses the book Hello Sailor! The Hidden History of Gay Life at Sea published in 2003 by Paul Baker and Jo Stanley re-interpreted as a landmark temporary, exhibition Hello Sailor! Gay Life on the Ocean Wave at Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool from where it will travel in 2007 to a number of other maritime museums. Based largely on oral history interviews and part of a hidden histories project, the book recovers the previously repressed histories of gay sailors in the ‘gay heaven’ of the merchant navy. It historically spans, roughly mid to late twentieth century. This paper seeks to explore the construction of gay seafarers presented in the book and latterly through museum display. It reveals what can be understood about the re-presentation of gendered identities and relations through the celebration of camp and cross-dressing. Baker and Stanley draw on queer theory rather than gay and lesbian studies and argue that the recovered history is not about civil rights but is rather ‘a politics of carnival, transgression and parody’ (Baker and Stanley, 2003, p. 19). The book and to a greater extent the exhibition however only partially unravel two important issues: sex and misogyny. This paper asks what light ‘hidden histories’, re-presented in museums can shed on gender and sexual relations in the present.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This paper discusses Hello Sailor! The Hidden History of Gay Life at Sea (2003) by Baker and Stanley re-interpreted as an exhibition at Merseyside Maritime Museum. It explores the construction of gay seafarers to unravel the re-presentation of gendered identities in the exhibition through the celebration of camp and cross-dressing. This is an electronic version of an article published in Meecham, Pam (2008) Reconfiguring the shipping news: maritime's hidden histories and the politics of gender display. Sex Education, 8 (3). pp. 371-380. Special Issue: Place-based sex/sexualities and relationship education Sex Education is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1080/14681810802218478
Controlled Keywords: Cultural studies
Divisions: IOE Departments > Departments > Culture, Communication and Media
Depositing User: IOE Repository Editor (2)
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2010 16:55
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2013 12:11
URI: http://eprints.ioe.ac.uk/id/eprint/3308
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