The Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA) have shone a spotlight on the work of two students from Melbourne and Sydney as part of their annual honours thesis awards.

The honours thesis prize was awarded to University of Sydney student Senthorun Sunil Raj (pictured) for his work Moving Representations: Queer Refugee Subjectivities and the Law, which looked at the cases of nine people who’ve sought asylum in Australia on the basis of their sexuality since the mid-1990s.

Raj, senior policy adviser for the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, is a regular NSW GLRL columnist for the Sydney Star Observer.

Monash University student Naomi Cranenburgh was highly commended by the ALGA judging panel for her thesis From Invisible to ‘Menace’: Lesbians in Australia from 1939 to 1965.

Cranenburgh’s thesis draws on extensive archival research and oral histories from lesbians who lived through World War Two and in the decades after.

ALGA secretary Mark Pendleton said judging was tough due to a large number of quality entrants and commended the winners.

“In a highly competitive field of entrants, the work of Raj and Cranenburgh stood out this year,” he said.

“The quality of all entrants demonstrates that research into the experiences of gay, lesbian and queer people in Australia remains in a strong position.

“We look forward to the future work of this exciting group of young researchers.”

ALGA offers an annual prize to the best honours thesis submitted to an Australian university which charts the GLBTI experience.

Honours theses from fields such as history, cultural studies, psychology, and law were submitted for the 2010 award and entries will be retained by ALGA for future reference.

ALGA is a volunteer-run community organisation which has been preserving Australia’s queer history since 1978.

On April 20, ALGA will also launch the much anticipated book Secret Histories of Queer Melbourne. The book is based on the popular Melbourne walks held during the annual Midsumma Festival. The Slap author Christos Tsiolkas will launch the book at Melbourne University.

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