The act of calling a collection of things an archive, is a powerful one.

When we think of archives, we usually imagine formal institutions like national archives where official documents are stored as matters of great importance. They tell a certain story about whose accounts matter, and concentrate the power of “history” from a central perspective. 

Reclaimed from the hands of state institutions, archives can be the unruly forms of memory that present multiple narratives to speak of what happened, who mattered, why and how we got here. 

An archive can be seen as the body of history that makes up our collective memory about particular events or things. Archives are aware that the past is not fixed: history is constantly being shaped by the present.

Contemporary archival practices, from independent community archives to archives held by private institutions and universities have the potential to surface hidden stories, amplify what was muted and provide a thicker, more complex assemblage and (re)presentation of ourstories. 

Some examples:

When we choose who and how we remember, we are also making a political choice about what matters. The practice of archiving reclaims the power of shaping history. 

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