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P319


Activating archives, collections and databases 
Convenors:
Tahani Nadim (Humboldt University Berlin)
Roos Hopman (Humboldt University Berlin)
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Format:
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Archives, collections and databases form resources for knowledge production as well as sites and instruments for constituting collective lives (e.g. community archives, biodiversity databases). The panel invites reflections of and case studies on different forms of (digital) activation.

Long Abstract:

Archives, collections and databases form resources for knowledge production as well as sites and instruments for constituting collective lives. With “activation” we refer to a mobilisation of data, history, bodies that seeks to go beyond relations of collecting and retrieving. In the form of community archives, these sites for example offer room for vital exchanges (of information, experiences, knowledge) between generations while also enabling the work of marginalized groups to enter history (e.g. Lesbian Herstory Archives). In the form of data collections such as the Land Matrix project, these resources can assist communities in documenting and recording pollution or land grabs while natural history collections can help articulate different postcolonial obligations. Digitization of objects and records can constitutes an important (but not only) mode of activation for these archives and collections: it allows for different kinds of access and uses while proliferating connections across previously separated domains and actors, having the potential to transform objects, records, their environments and communities. STS and the history of science have attended to the informational ecology of data collections (e.g. Bowker and Star; Strasser), information studies document and examine how archives can be structured and maintained so as to support community-building (e.g. the international linked data vocabulary of LGBTQ+ terms, Homosaurus, enabling access to LGBTQ resources) while ethnographic research projects (e.g. The Asthma Files) are establishing their own databases and digital collections for facilitating collaborative work and public anthropology. This panel wants to bring these concerns into conversation and invites contributions from scholars, information activists and practitioners.

Accepted papers: