Community Archiving: Evocative Quotes

Archiving is always political

"Observers of community archives have tended to distinguish between those politically and culturally motivated endeavours acting to counter to the absences and misrepresentations relating to a particular group or community in mainstream archives and other heritage narratives and those whose the inspiration is not so directly or overtly political or cultural, but rather is a manifestation of a shared enthusiasm for the history of a place, occupation or interest. Whilst it is an important distinction, the authors would also contend that even in the most nostalgic and leisure-orientated community archive projects there is something inherently political in individuals and communities taking an active role in the re-telling of their own history." (2013, 5)

Archivial imaginaries and futures:
"Community-based archives may act as sites of resistance and subversion in the present and a map for future aspiration as much they are interested in documenting the past (Appadurai 2003)." (2013, 9)
Independence as vulnerability

"One of the consequences and dimensions of this commitment to independence and sustaining autonomy is the resulting dependence on the significant personal sacrifice (financial, physical and mental) of key activists and a network of volunteers, arising from great emotional and political commitment to the collections and their impacts. As we have already noted this commitment is both an enormous benefit to the archive but also a potential vulnerability with regard to the long term stability, succession and sustainability." (2013, 12)

Second wave community archiving

"[D]evelopments in the web and social technology were a significant factor in what in the UK we might term the second wave of community-based archives and heritage activities in the late 1990s and early 2000s." (2013, 13)

Search for definitions and the 'institutional gaze'

"[W]hy are “we” (and here we are referring not only to academics in archival studies, but also to archival practitioners) so focused on formulating definitions of and making distinctions between mainstream and community archives and their endeavors? For the most part, “we” are not the voices of, or even representing “community archives”– although that line is becoming more blurred with increased numbers of professionally-trained archivists coming from and returning to these communities. We are the ones applying the term “community archives” to these diverse social, political and cultural initiatives and we are the ones viewing their inception and flourishing as some kind of phenomenon or movement. But are they really, or is that our projection, possibly because we recognize how these initiatives address the shortcomings of our more traditional archival constructions and practices?" (2013, 14)

Analytic (Question)





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