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Advanced Topics in Digital and Electronic Media Studies: Archives: Power, Justice, Inclusion

FILM 189
Academic Year: 
Commun Bldg 150

Archives are places where archivists (or community members) work to collect, organize, preserve the cultural and historical record and make it accessible. They are places of labor, research, and sometimes resistance, and they are also places of change. Archives permit us to make historical interventions: to bring the record of the past into the present so as to affect the future. Students will join the instructor in experimenting with the idea that archives are much more than places where records are stored. Together, we will evaluate the proposition that archives might be speculative spaces (or perhaps laboratories) where we can model the future — especially new ways of living and working together — and build a more equal, just and inclusive world.

The course will combine reading, deep discussion and one term-long project. Readings will focus on recent thinking by archivists of color, queer theorists and archivists, community-based archivists, archivists focusing on climate change, Indigenous thinkers, and cultural theorists.

All students must actively participate in discussions and create a term-long project. You may work with moving images, photographs, text, artwork, social media, etc. There will be two options:


  • Create an archives in your own community or a community you are close to
  • Prepare a deep critique of an existing archives; in other words, decolonize it


This course will demand your full attention and effort, but it will be interesting, new and urgent, and you will learn a lot about archives.