Liberatory Archives and Memory 

Our Liberatory Archives and Memory program is an action to build archival knowledge and  archival community practices that seeks to bring together a community of individuals, groups, and institutions from across the world. We’re seeking to collectively reimagine “the archive” and “sites of memory” as powerful spaces and acts of resistance, healing, and transformation. Liberatory Archives and Memory is a broad container for this work, which includes the Whose (Digital) Archives? initiative in the United Kingdom and our work globally.  Central to the program are the infrastructures of (liberatory) archives and memory in imagining alternatives to Big Knowledge (archives, museums, libraries and other memory institutions such as academic and publishing) and their infrastructures, and the increasing datafication1 of memory.

This is meant to be a pilot effort, seeking to convene conversations of solidarity as a community of practice; share skills and build capacities; and create a set of resources that will build a collective knowledge commons for everyone on this journey, from different contexts across the world.

Why is it important?

“History want[s] to be remembered,” as author Rivers Solomon puts it, and archives have traditionally been one of the critical spaces of remembering and maintaining for posterity the artifacts of people’s histories, cultures, and knowledges. Yet commercial and capitalist archives and museums, by the very nature of institutional structures of power and privilege, decide whose histories we “remember” and how. In most cases, through the violent and instrumentalist processes of colonialism and capitalism, only the histories of a few are maintained with respect and visibility, while the histories of the rest are either selectively created and preserved, or forgotten through archival destruction. 

Community or people’s archives have been amongst the leaders of the resistance in holding and sharing the memories and histories of the marginalized. Over the past few decades, they have been using the internet in particular, to create a growing pool of digital archives (or hybrid physical/digital) that seek to powerfully center marginalized histories and knowledges, and honor the radical politics and imaginations of our communities. 

Through Liberatory Archives and Memory, we hope to challenge the hegemonies of capitalist archives and museums and contribute to the vital and essential work of people’s archives.

  1. Datafication is a technological trend turning many aspects of our life into data which is subsequently transferred into information realised as a new form of value. This process is primarily due to the impact of big data and predictive analytics. ↩︎