Call for contributions
*Archiving activism in the digital age*
edited by Ann Rigney (Utrecht University) and Daniele Salerno (Utrecht
Contemporary repertoires of protest have been adapting to
digitally-oriented media environments (Tilly 2006; Hoskins 2017; Treré
2018; Merrill, Keightley, and Daphi 2020), begging the question how they
will be archived for the future. Since the global wave of protests
against the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the debate on archiving
activism in the digital age has gained momentum, bringing activists,
archivists, policy makers and scholars into new dialogue. How to
preserve the cultural production of born-digital movements, why and what
should be preserved, who should do the work, for and on behalf of whom,
who can claim the ownership of social movements’
legacies-in-the-making? These are just a few of the questions that have
been surfacing in recent debates on the entanglements of archiving and
activism ( Flinn and Alexander 2015, Della Ratta, Dickinson, and
Haugbolle 2020; Caswell 2021). Concern about the real risk of losing the
traces of recent movements and their cultural production gives to these
issues an added urgency.
For several decades now, moreover, there have been growing demands
for the digitization of older collections pertaining to social movements
from earlier times. This was given a new urgency by the COVID-19
pandemic and the very limited accessibility of physical archives in 2020
and 2021. But it is part of a longer-term trend which reflects the
growing centrality of the digital in social and political life, and the
growing demand for digitally accessible archival resources that can be
used for multiple purposes: academic research, activism, artistic and
curatorial projects. The digitization of existing collections calls
again for a critical reflection on the risks and opportunities entailed
in the digital remediation (Bolter and Grusin 1999; Erll and Rigney
2009) of the legacy of past social movements.
At stake in these debates is the digital in its different, although
entangled, functions: i) the digital as media used by activists and
social movements for and in protests; ii) the digital as technology for
archiving the cultural production of present and past movements; iii)
the digital as an active agent in archiving processes (Latour 2005),
which fixes, through its affordances and algorithms, the conditions for
the collection and future retrieval of the cultural memory of protests.
The proposed edited volume aims to contribute to these debates from a
broad range of interdisciplinary perspectives. It seeks to advance
recent work in memory studies, media studies, (critical) archival
studies and social movement studies, by bringing into dialogue scholars,
archivists and activists (though these roles may overlap). By focusing
on the archiving-activism nexus, our aim is also to productively bridge
the different conceptualizations of “archive” and in particular the
contraposition between the epistemological idea of “the Archive” in the
Foucauldian sense (Foucault 1969) and of archives as material – even
when “just digital” – socio-cultural spaces (Sheffield 2020).
Contributions may include, but are not limited to, these topics:
- Archiving activism and activist archiving in the digital age:
professional and activist epistemologies;
- archiving digital repertoires of protest;
- the legacy of past social movements: digitization, digital
remediations and reuses for mobilization in the present;
- how the digital drives memory- and oblivion-making in archiving
processes: algorithms and digital affordances;
- methodologies in digital humanities: opportunities and challenges
offered by the digital for the study of the cultural memories of protest
(distant reading, etc…)
- conditions of circulation and availability of archival material in the
- digital archives as social spaces for activism;
- new forms of digital or web-based grassroots or self-curated movement
- the effect of copyright and privacy legislations in archiving activism
and memory work;
- use of archives for digital curations and story-telling
* Abstract submission deadline*: May 15, 2022
Please submit a title and an abstract of around 500 words with a short
bio (80 words) to: [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> and
[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>.
Abstracts should reference up to 10 works in the relevant literature and
*Notification of abstract acceptance*: June 1, 2022
*Full paper submission*: October 14, 2022 (between 4500 and 7500 words,
including footnotes and bibliography)
The volume will be published open access.
*Ann Rigney *is professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht
University, and PI of the ERC-funded project “Remembering Activism”;
*Daniele Salerno* is Marie-Curie post-doctoral fellow at Utrecht
University, and PI of the project “Cultural Memory in LGBT Activism”;
Bolter, J. David, and Richard Grusin. 1999. Remediation: Understanding
New Media. Cambridge (Mass.): MIT Press.
Caswell, Michelle. 2021. Urgent Archives: Enacting Liberatory Memory
Work. London-New York: Routledge.
Della Ratta, Donatella, Kay Dickinson, and Sune Haugbolle, eds. 2020.
The Arab Archive: Mediated Memories and Digital Flows. Amsterdam:
Institute of Network Cultures.
Erll, Astrid, and Ann Rigney, eds. 2009. Mediation, Remediation, and the
Dynamics of Cultural Memory. Berlin: de Gruyter.
Flinn, Andrew, and Ben Alexander. 2015. “‘Humanizing an Inevitability
Political Craft’: Introduction to the Special Issue on Archiving
Activism and Activist Archiving.” Archival Science 15(4): 329–335.
Foucault, Michel. 1969. Archaeology of Knowledge. London-New York:
Hoskins, Andrew, ed. 2017. Digital Memory Studies: Media Pasts in
Transition. London-New York: Routledge.
Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to
Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Merrill, Samuel, Emily Keightley, and Priska Daphi, eds. 2020. Social
Movements, Cultural Memory and Digital Media: Mobilising Mediated
Remembrance. Cham: Palgrave.
Rigney, Ann. 2018. “Remembering Hope: Transnational Activism beyond the
Traumatic.” Memory Studies 11(3):368–80.
Sheffield, Rebecka Taves. 2020. Documenting rebellions: a study of four
lesbian and gay archives in queer times. Sacramento, CA: Litwin Books.
Tilly, Charles. 2006. Regimes and Repertoires. Chicago: University of
Treré, Emiliano. 2018. Hybrid Media Activism: Ecologies, Imaginaries,
Algorithms. London-New York: Routledge.