Autonomous archives

TitleAutonomous archives
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsMoore, Shaunna, and Susan Pell
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
AbstractBy providing evidence for the creation and continuation of claims to identities and places, archives facilitate the participation of multiple publics in dominant cultural and political domains. In the context of fluctuating relations between competing and unequal publics in contested narratives and spaces, the means to control representations of documents determines the ways in which groups are able to participate in the present and influence the future. While government archives have attempted to include and incorporate diverse histories, many social justice organisations and social movements have chosen to operate outside of this framework by preserving the records of their own activities. This article theorises a concept of ‘autonomous archives’ as a crucial component of democratic heritage practices. It develops this notion through an exploration of archives that have emerged within marginalised publics in Vancouver, Canada: the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Archives, the Hope in Shadows Archive, and Friends of the Woodward's Squat Archive. Each of these archives point to the intersecting concerns of social identity, claims to place, and the political stakes of representation within heterogeneous and unequal publics. They also suggest the significance of archives in the formation of publics, within the broader context of cultural memory and democratic participation.