Nowviskie begins this talk by asking the question “where and when do Black lives matter?” in information sciences; she looks at Afropolitanism (space) and Afrofuturism (time), focusing on Afrofuturism; it is “self-possessed” and centers around the past, present, and future of blackness and locating/telling stories of the future while never forgetting the past. She advocates the need for digital cultural heritage systems affordance – a White-dominant field – to decolonize archives and “design for agency” so that Black communities and cultures as well as other marginalized communities have control over their stories and archives, their “philosophical infrastructure.” Instead of merely designing for inclusion, design for progress and spaces/places where Black lives are everywhere and every when.
Jules argues that social media has been crucial for documenting and disseminating social activism, especially for Black communities. After the Watts Rebellion’s 50th anniversary, Jules decided to research how much primary material about specific rebellions were available; the results, not surprisingly, were slim. For the digital #BlackLivesMatter collection that Jules helped spearhead, which was also the beginning of the Documenting the Now initiative, they archived almost 45 million Tweets to document and preserve primary source documents about police encounters. The problem with recording these images, Tweets, videos, and other documenting materials, though, is surveillance culture may put advocates and people who show up to rebellions at risk. Based on a talk presented at Diversity in the Archives: Preserving Ephemeral Activist Culture, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Libraries.
See also “Introducing Documenting the Now“, Ed Summers.
A foundational article in the field of archival science and critical archives theory, Harris, writing in 2002, argues that far from being a simple reflection of reality, archives are constructed windows into personal and collective processes. They at once express and are instruments of prevailing relations of power. Verne Harris makes these arguments through an account of archives and archivists in the context of South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy. The account is deliberately shaped around three themes — race, power, and public records. While he concedes that the constructedness of memory and the dimension of power are most obvious in the extreme circumstances of oppression and rapid transition to democracy, he argues that these are realities informing archives in all circumstances. He makes an appeal to archivists to enchant their work by engaging these realities and by turning always towards the call of and for justice.