Accepted paper:

Fugitives: Anarchival Materiality in Archives

Authors:

Trudi Lynn Smith (Simon Fraser University)
Kate Hennessy (Simon Fraser University)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation draws attention to anarchival materiality, the generative force of entropy in archives. We theorize anarchival materiality through our oral history research with archivists and curators and parallel video and photography work in the British Columbia Provincial Archives, Canada.

Paper long abstract:

In archives, issues of material loss are met with tools of resistance, ranging from simple freezers, to fire-resistant bunkers, to complex robotic systems. While loss is usually resisted by archivists, this presentation draws attention to anarchival materiality, or the generative force of entropy in archives. We theorize anarchival materiality through our oral history research with archivists, conservators, and curators and our parallel video and photography work in the British Columbia Provincial Archives, Canada. We describe how non-human archives and their human stewards both constrain and enable preservation. Classification systems, spatial organization and human responsibilities are all fundamentally reshaped and determined by the uncooperative residents of archives, who constantly remind their caretakers of potentials in transformation. The anarchival force of molecular transformation, violence, displacement, and other human and non-human interactions render archival materials as fugitives, both eluding and driving preservation. Our presentation will draw on recent discussions of fugitivity in anthropology and photography to rethink and represent that which resists dominant structures (Berry, Chávez Argüelles, Cordis, Ihmoud and Velásquez Estrada, 2017; Campt 2012). Through our video and photographic work, we explore the material agency of more than human archives to inquire how anarchival properties of archives reveal "sensuous enchantment" (Bennett, 2010) between humans and their worlds. Archives are not outside of us, not of the past or for the future; rather, they run alongside and in relationship with human beings. How might fugitives within archival structures reveal potentials in entropy?

panel P029
Bodies of Archives/Archival Bodies