Public lecture: Urgent Archives. Enacting Liberatory Memory Work

Een lange gang met archiefkasten ©

On 3 November, Michelle Caswell of the University of California Los Angeles will talk about the the emerging field of critical archival studies. She argues that that archivists can and should do more to disrupt white supremacy and hetero-patriarchy beyond the standard liberal archival solutions of diverse collecting and more inclusive description.

Liberatory theories and practices

Caswell looks toward the radical politics of community archives to envision new liberatory theories and practices. Based on more than a decade of ethnography at community archives sites including the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), she will explore how members of minoritised communities activate records to build solidarities across and within communities, trouble linear progress narratives, and disrupt cycles of oppression.

Liberatory memory work

By catalysing corollary records from the past, communities that steward, use and are represented by community archives learn political strategies and get inspiration. Caswell will explore the temporal, representational, and material aspects of liberatory memory work, ultimately arguing that archival disruptions in time and space should be neither about the past nor the future, but about the liberatory affects and effects of memory work in the present.


The lecture is hosted by the Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies jointly organised in the framework of the ERC-funded project ReAct - The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe and of the project Memorights - Cultural Memory in LGBT Activism for Rights, funded under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie action and in collaboration with the International Institute of Social History (IISG).

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