New Rainbow research collection Ia a world first
by Vanessa Elley (she/her)
AUT’s new Rainbow research collection la - unveiled on September 6th, is already home to over 100 Rainbow-specific dissertations, theses, reports, books, and journal articles.
The e-portal accumulates 20 years worth of work from staff and post-graduate students across different disciplines, the first of its kind to do so.
One of the academics involved in the project and spokesperson for AUT’s Rainbow Initiative, Professor Welby Ings, says he was surprised nothing like Ia already existed.
“It’s the first in the world! We looked everywhere, we thought surely someone’s doing it. No-one had done it.”
Ia is breaking new ground by collating Rainbow-related research from across all of the university’s departments.
“There’s not been a university wide, across all the disciplines representation,” Ings said.
“And what Ia does is everything that goes onto Tuwhera, our open-research database, that is associated with our people, irrespective of whether it’s say, a student’s thesis, or an academic government report, or a book, or a feature film script, or a novel, that all comes in, so this connects everything in a whole university.”
The collection is intended to improve the visibility and accessibility of queer research, a goal reflected by the name Ia. “The word ia, it’s not well-known in Māori but it’s actually got two meanings,” Ings said. “One, it’s a pronoun that’s not gendered, so it’s not masculine or feminine. But the word also means to flow, like a current or like a river.
“And what we were trying to do was get the knowledge to flow out into our communities and out into the world.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Damon Salesa said in a statement, “AUT is incredibly proud to be at the forefront of promoting and supporting Rainbow research.
“Ia serves as a living example of visibility and value, demonstrating that AUT is proud of, and acknowledges, the significance and necessity of such research.”
The hope is that Ia will pave the way for other universities to create similar collections, building a network of archives between universities and organisations such as the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand (LAGANZ).
Ings said that collecting research from over 155 contributors at AUT has already helped to identify gaps for new study.
“It just means it’s easier to find out what exists. And similarly, I think it helps identify where the areas are that we need researchers.
“The reason I love my job is that we’re growing, you have students who come through who will be the researchers of the future, who will be able to go to the places we haven’t been able to go yet.
“And so everything we can do to make it easier for them and also enable them to do the things that we’ve not yet been able to do, that’s a really important investment.”
Ia: The Rainbow Collection can be found online at ia.aut.ac.nz.