Inviting “the other” + invisibility politics

Having been raised by a single mother, my understanding of domesticity is imbued with certain “feminist ethics.” I was particularly moved by Caswell and Cifor’s idea of radical empathy, one that involves a kind of hospitable guidance of “the other” in archival interventions (2016, p. 25). At the risk of extolling midwestern friendliness, I take this invitation of the other to mean the potential to bring together disparate, perhaps even incompatible, articulations of “care.” Failed attempts to ethically preserve cultural knowledge reveals the collective tendency to efface the granularity of these archival materials. However, the power relations enfolded into politics of invisibility complicate the right to privacy. As Doreen St. Felix notes, some work is produced with an intended illegibility: “not every artist wants everyone to understand.”

What does become clear in the digital landscape is that cultural material produced and preserved online faces more questions than those cared for in historically private spaces like the home. We cannot domesticate the Web.

One Reply

  • Excellent, Allie. Thank you for reminding us that what constitutes archival “care” is contextual: sometimes it means preserving the privacy or silence of particular individuals or groups. And yes, given that the web tends to privilege indiscriminate distribution, it’s much harder to enforce “careful” access policies.

    This is your fourth and final post for the semester, Allie. Thank you!

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