Arguing with Archives
Around the world, archives are being created and activated in the service of social justice. From scientists grabbing disappearing global climate data to former prisoners creating “living museum” archives in the prisons of apartheid to actors performing neglected records, professionals and communities are building arguments through archives. This symposium will bring practitioners, scholars, and artists together to explore the ways archives shape our realities. We use the term broadly to include traditional repositories of manuscript documents, treasure troves gathered by ordinary citizens, museum collections, and stores of scientific data. Authoritarianism inspires new archives, often in response to governments that display evidence with “alternative facts.” We have asked participants to use their own projects to show when and how archives have served simultaneously as critical repositories of knowledge, as institutions that organize societies, and as privileged sites of political control and struggle. The symposium promises to be an exciting and unique exchange among practicing archivists; artists experimenting with archival materials; and scholars who conduct research in archives and theorize about archives’ impact on our interpretation of events and cultures. The symposium will combine lectures, conversations, film screenings, exhibitions, workshops, and performances in “archival” spaces across campus.