Critical Archives and Records Reading Group: Queerness and Recordkeeping/Critical Feminism in the Archives

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Hi everyone! I’ve been a bit slow updating this with the resources from the critical archives and records reading group. We’ve now had 3/5 sessions exploring white supremacy, queerness and critical feminism. You can follow the above link to access our reading list, find out about where it happens and see the dates for future sessions. So far we’ve been a mix of students, academics, professionals and people interested in archive work (in a broad sense), and it’s been nice to link the readings to our own practice-led questions about archival practice and historical research.

Queerness and Record Keeping Session Summary is a pdf summary of the notes we made as part of the queerness and record keeping session. I’ve uploaded it here so that those who were unable to attend are able to catch up with some of the discussion remotely!

I will shamefully admit that I sadly left the notes from the critical feminism workshop on the train back to Leeds so I can’t type those up! As a personal reflection though, I found this session interesting for our explorations of feminist archival practice and the nature of feminist archives. Again, questions around undertaking radical work in an institutional context emerged frequently, and the tensions that emerge when trying to navigate patriarchal institutional structures. We also talked about the need to understand different feminisms, particularly the way in which some people are excluded by feminism (for example, trans exclusionary radical feminism) and how this affects the ability to create a singular feminist archive. We talked about the recent celebrations following the Representation of the People Act (1918), and the often depoliticised interpretations of feminist histories which ignore or erase current struggles (or the continuation of historical struggles). People anyone else who attended can comment here with any reflections they have to add!

Three sessions in, each of these subjects have raised questions about the nature of records and archives, the foundations and principles which underpin archival practice (for example, preservation, public/private access, stability, gatekeeping and custody), collections development practices, dynamics between institutional and community-led heritage, and the make up of the archive profession.

If you haven’t yet come along to one, our next session is on the 1st May and explores critical heritage and commemoration. Readings and further info available via UCL.

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