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The points brought up in all of these readings/talks/interviews support my thinking that the decolonization of archives is much more complex than an ‘undoing’ of archival injustices. It is not simply a matter of repatriation or ownership, a returning of materials to where they come from. The very methodologies used in colonial archiving practice, (for example as Christen brings up, the viewing of indigenous/colonized peoples as a subject of study rather than collaborators), have enduring effects on the categorization, preservation, metadata, and dissemination of these artifacts even in today’s context. Moving forward, I would also like to linger on the question of what non-western archival practices look like. Caswell several times in the interview draws a strong dichotomy between western and non-western archival thought. Particularly with the notion of subjectivity. “Records are supposed to be impartial, which means that the people creating them should have no notion of how they might wind up in an archives in the future.” This is an important distinction because all of these readings argue that archivists should have respect for the intended visibility, distribution and preservation of artifacts during their creation (i.e. the intended illegibility of certain rap lyrics for particular audiences (Doreen St.Felix), or the right to be forgotten).

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  • Brilliant, Aarati. You’re asking some profoundly important questions. As we look through some case studies in class today, I’m sure we’ll find that their gestures toward decolonization — however necessary and admirable — are insufficient. What would it mean to start anew, with nonwestern foundational principles? How would we build a new archival “stack” on a non-western ideology / ontology / epistemology?

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