Conference Call for Papers: Archiving, Memory and Method from the Global South


“Archive” is one of the most capacious concepts in the humanities and social sciences. “To archive” or to consult “the archives” are often used to authorize evidence and legitimate certain knowledge at the expense of others. In an effort to recenter the politics of knowledge from the Global South, some scholars have attempted to expand or reimagine archival practice. However, archives are not only contested tools for scholarly pursuits. Archives – and the process of archiving – are also key parts of identity formation, nation-building, struggles for community justice, the consolidation of state power, and resistance to power. To think about archives means to think critically about knowledge, power, and their entanglement with practices of remembering and preserving – as well as culling and suppressing.

Whether we define archives as collections of material or digital papers/objects, the physical repositories that house them, and/or the institutions that control them, archives are formations for consolidating and contesting knowledge and power. The particular forms of knowledge and power that coalesce around ideas of “archive” are especially generative and contested from the Global South. In many societies, archives were institutional tools and ideological prisms of colonial control. Government paper archives were both productive and reflective of efforts to re-order and control colonized societies. Resisting state power often went hand-in-hand with secretly guarding the transmission of knowledge for specific audiences. Therefore, efforts to preserve knowledge within community archives have been forced to contend with broader questions about the status of knowledge, its relationship to histories of colonial reordering, infrastructural histories, and the institutional positions of archives’ custodians and constituencies.

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) invites scholars, archivists, and community practitioners to a conference on the relationship between archiving, memory and method from the Global South. Through a grant from the Mellon Foundation, CHUSS is concluding a three-year project that has studied the intersection of archives with communities, institutions and academia. This international conference will be both a culmination of the project and an opportunity to widen the community of scholars and practitioners working in the field. We seek presentations on the dynamics of archival practice, knowledge and power from the Global South. What are the historical practices of preservation that precede and/or challenge colonial archival knowledge? How do efforts to preserve indigenous knowledge transform that knowledge through the process of archiving? How should scholars productively and ethically engage with archives, not just as existing sites of research but as institutional sites of memory in the making?

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Makerere University
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
P.O Box 7062 Kampala



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