Hi everyone, this is Vino, the archivist at the Musée, continuing my blog series. At many recent archives conferences there has been discussion about the use of social media and this was true again in Montreal in 2016, however the theme of the activist archivist resonated more strongly for me this time. During the 1970s, archives activism primarily dealt with ensuring democracy by the “documenting of the undocumented”, but this is changing as the role and involvement of the archivist is also going under some recent innovation.
An interesting take on the activist archivist and the use of social media was presented at the conference by Jarrett Drake from Princeton University. He started off by saying that we don’t need more activist archivists, but rather need more active archivists. He described this by talking about his work based upon the Black Justice League protests in 2015 at Princeton. https://www.change.org/p/princeton-university-administration-occupynassau-meet-black-student-s-demands
Drake’s presentation was about #OccupyNassau
Princeton did not have a means to document these student protests or “student blackouts”. So Drake sent a tweet, about the need to document the protest, which was retweeted by 35 other archivists. This led to an effort to reach out to student organizations and archiving twitter and social media crawls because these media forms documented the events occurring. He then came up with a drive at Princeton for students to donate records related to student activism which led to submissions from various student organizations. Drake is advocating an active archivist that not only archives what we already know, but rather someone who continuously conducts our practice in a critical manner to uncover unexplored areas, which is the essence of “documenting of the undocumented”.