If archivism was indeed ever exclusively ideologically neutral in its approach to managing historical materials, many archivists have come to see said objectivity as illusory at best. Principal amongst the reasons for this shift in perspective within the archives community is a growing awareness that its custodianship of cultural materials can never be enacted in a manner wholly divorced from interpretation, advocacy, and the ever-present demands of the socially or economically powerful institutions that fund and administer archives.
Despite the extent to which this emergent awareness has affected how archivists approach their responsibilities, there remains a mistrust of the archival world by those most committed to the dismantling of hegemonic structures, particularly amongst activists, on the grounds that traditional institutional frameworks often fail to provide adequate transparency, accountability or sensitivity to the needs of marginalized individuals, communities, and movements.
How far can, and should, archivists go in responding to the concerns of the movements they are attempting to document? Should they be rethinking, even overhauling, traditional archival practice? This symposium addresses a range of issues attendant upon archives’ evolving relationships with activism and social justice, ownership and participatory archives, and what emerging technologies mean for the practice. Presenters representing a variety of institutions, initiatives, and activist communities will explore theoretical concerns as well as practice-based approaches to documenting social activism.
This symposium is dedicated to the memory of archivist and historian Michael Nash (1946-2012).
For more information, visit www.nycarchivists.org.
Sponsored by Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. and The New School Libraries and Archives with the generous support of Archives Week by MetLife and the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation.