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May They Reminisce Over You: On The Potential of Archives as Homespace

  • Margolis, Robin
Publication Date
Jun 30, 2019
The Journal of Community Informatics
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For archives preserving the cultural heritage of artists and marginalized groups, community memories entangle with memories of community displacement . How can we as memory workers promote the potential of our collections to serve as hermeneutic aids in the transmission of cultural and social heritage? This paper weighs the turn toward participatory archives as form of liberation against the liberatory work located within Black Feminist scholar bell hooks conception of “homeplace as a site of resistance,” where “all black people [can] strive to be subjects, not objects.” (hooks, 1999) To investigate the potential of archives to act as homeplace, this paper explores the author’s design of a proposed community research project of a collection at La MaMa Archives. It argues for transforming the process of digitizing cultural heritage into an opportunity to reshape the collection in accordance with principles of participatory archiving. It theorizes methods of engaging and partnering with Jeannette Bastian’s “community of records” connected to different performances held by La MaMa, taking up the call by Anne Gilliland and Sue McKemmish to “reposition the subjects of records and all others involved or affected by the events documented in them as participatory agents.” (Bastian, 2003; Cox, 2015) By taking up the call for participatory archives, it advocates for the benefits of the practices of reminiscing and oral history to complement web-driven or more technologically oriented solutions often linked with participatory efforts. Anticipating the needs of the artists and community elders implicated within and involved as co-creators of these records, it integrates aspects of emerging models of continuum informatics and participatory appraisal with the professional practices of oral history and reminiscing work. It examines possibilities for integrating Leisa Gibbons Mediated Recordkeeping model with Jeffrey Dean Webster’s Heuristic Model of Reminiscing.

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