Archives in the Americas

Visit here to look at the materials shared at a recent event and for more resources on Latinx archives.

Around the globe, people have long struggled to shape archives, determining where they start and end, what testimonies or information will be stored, how institutions will preserve and curate materials, and how academia should engage with them. From grassroots organizations in Colombia debating what kind of Afro-Colombian museum they want for their country to communities in Ukraine defending the right to preserve physical evidences of war crimes, we notice how archival practices continue to trigger multi-layered discussions on power (every time we store something, we decide what to discard), accessibility (where are those materials kept? Who has access to these locations?), and labor (the affective and physical investment in appraising materials, classifying, curating, and creating spaces for civic engagement with them).

Collecting documents and other objects is a widespread practice across cultures that both reproduces and reframes class, gender, race, and the self. As sites of memory whose materials can be retrieved and used to redefine and reimagine the past, the present, and the future, archives have long been vital for the humanities and in social life more broadly. The organization, maintenance, and display of archives intertwine with colonial and decolonial processes. This poses ever-renewed methodological and ethical questions about how archives should be handled, confronted, or expanded –questions of visibility and erasure that become most prominent in the case of marginalized communities. These kinds of questions require multipronged, interdisciplinary answers.