Acknowledging and Addressing Archival Injustices

I am surprised to read in Caswell interview that archivist are resistant to online records, and that records require materiality. Perhaps I am missing a key difference between an archive and a record, but that seems to exclude a vast amount of data. As mentioned, it excludes oral and kinetic records, but does that also exclude databases/online records?! What are the characteristics of a dataset that would make it a record? And in thinking about archiving radical movements, I also struggle to see how we can only stick to materiality where entire political struggles are started and maintained through hashtags.

I’m also interested in the ethics of cataloging radical movements. Like the participants of On Our Backs, should protesters be subject to having their dissidence be preserved? Is there an intersection of anonymity and accuracy + authenticity of archives?

And a last thought on radical digital archives, with the advent of deep fakes, professional trolls, and misinformation, what are the ethics of including, for example, false tweets and misinformation? On one hand, presenting that “data” on equal ground with legitimate data is problematic. On the other, those campaigns should be documented as a part of fighting these struggles.

I guess this week brought more questions than it did answers…

One Reply

  • Excellent, Iltimas. I don’t think Caswell was suggesting that these other-media formats don’t belong in the archives; I believe she was acknowledging debates over what constitutes a record — and the frustration that comes with attempts to archive non-fixed records. I also greatly appreciate your questions re: the ethics of archiving dissidence *and* error/ deception. I hope we can address these issues in today’s conversation!

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