Toward slow archives

Abstract

This article examines the structures, practices, and processes of collection, cataloging, and curation to expose where current cultural authority is placed, valued, and organized within archival workflows. The long arc of collecting is not just rooted in colonial paradigms; it relies on and continually remakes those structures of injustice through the seemingly benign practices and processes of the profession. Our emphasis is on one mode of decolonizing processes that insist on a different temporal framework: the slow archives. Slowing down creates a necessary space for emphasizing how knowledge is produced, circulated, and exchanged through a series of relationships. Slowing down is about focusing differently, listening carefully, and acting ethically. It opens the possibility of seeing the intricate web of relationships formed and forged through attention to collaborative curation processes that do not default to normative structures of attribution, access, or scale.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge that this work was carried out on the traditional homelands of the Palus Band of Indians, the ceded lands of the Nez Perce Tribe, the traditional territories of the Calusa Indians and on Lenapehoking, the homeland of the Lenape people. We further acknowledge their presence here since time immemorial and recognize continuing connection to the lands, waters, and ancestors. We would like to thank our colleagues and collaborators, James Francis, Donald Soctomah, Dwayne Tomah and Guha Shankar, for their time and dedication to this work. We also want to acknowledge the labor of our graduate student assistants, Jesslyn Starnes and Landon Roper. Their research was invaluable to this work. We would also like to acknowledge the generous support of the Rauschenberg Foundation.

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Christen, K., Anderson, J. Toward slow archives. Arch Sci 19, 87–116 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-019-09307-x

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Keywords

  • Ethical curation
  • Indigenous collaborations
  • Access
  • Technology