Whose (Digital) Archives?

Our Whose (Digital) Archives? initiative seeks to bring together a community of practice of individuals, groups, and institutions from across the world who are seeking to collectively reimagine the “archive” and “memory” as powerful spaces and acts of resistance, healing, and transformation.

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 mainstream 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 Whose (Digital) Archives?, we hope to challenge the hegemonies of mainstream archives and museums and contribute to the vital and essential work of people’s archives.