I was struck by the recurring themes of awareness, empowerment and the efforts to provide tools to communities to archive themselves that ran throughout the material for this week. The interview with Michelle Caswell provided several examples of this in her own work and in those of who have inspired her — all stressing the importance “to use the same language [in archival projects] that communities use to describe themselves.” She builds on this in the following article regarding models to employ “radical empathy” and core tenants of social justice in archival practice. These sentiments are expanded upon in Kimberly Christen’s work with Traditional Knowledge licensing and labeling systems for use in the handling of indigenous cultural digital materials. I was particularly interested in the iconography of the TK labeling system that was highlighted in this work — using visual cues to potentially expand the reach of this system through educational/social channels. Burgis Jules, in the “Failure to Care” panel discussion, neatly and succinctly articulated these efforts via his interest in the “usability of data archiving tools as a way to diversify the historical record.”
From the same panel discussion, I am also interested in Doreen St Felix’s comment the griot as a sort of “ghoulish” figure in West African culture/society. This role of musician/historian/storyteller is another example of embodied archival knowledge via the distribution of oral history. I hadn’t previously considered or known about the darker contexts/association of this cultural figure.
Lastly: Evan Hill’s article — focusing on the Mosireen archive project “858” which documents smartphone videos of the Egyptian protest movement in 2011 — makes a keen observation in its conclusion: “We say the internet never forgets, but internet freedom isn’t evenly distributed: When tech companies have expanded into parts of the world where information suppression is the norm, the have proven wiling to work with local censors. Those censors will be emboldened by new efforts at platform regulation in the US and Europe, just as authoritarian regimes have already enthusiastically repurposed the rhetoric of “fake news.”” The subject of intense moderation of major social media and networking platforms is the focus of the highlighted film on this week’s Independent Lens on PBS — The Cleaners, by Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck. (I haven’t watched it yet!)