Intersectionality in the archive: power structures, absences and scale in archival research of BAME seafarers in early twentieth century Britain.

Authors: Hannah Martin*, Northumbria University
Topics: Historical Geography
Keywords: Historical geography, intersectionality, archives, race, ethnicity, class
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Calvert Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The way in which we negotiate archives is situated in complex structures of power that influence the trajectory of our research. A great body of work addresses issues of BAME visibility and absence in the archival record, yet there is relatively little that considers the shifting fluidity and dynamism of archival absences.
This paper explores the merits of using a methodological framework situated within intersectional theory, when approaching everyday histories of BAME seafarers in inter-war Britain. Practical questions of archival scale, especially at the local level, will be considered to highlight the challenges present when historically researching BAME individuals in the everyday.
BAME seafarers appear in national, regional and local archives sporadically, inconsistently and seemingly at random. However, their presence in the archival record is more than coincidental; it is dependent on complex socioeconomic and geopolitical contexts and varies immensely over temporal and spatial boundaries. Through using a lens of intersectional theory, it becomes possible to highlight the different ways that BAME seafarers come to be visible in the archival record. It becomes apparent that issues of race, class, gender, literacy, occupation, citizenship and subject hood, intersect with one another to either inhibit or guarantee a BAME presence in the archival record. These socially constructed forms of oppression, relational and independent at different times, in diverse spaces and in various ways, has clearly shaped the archival record. Therefore, employing an intersectional methodological framework, will greatly enhance the way we approach research that uncovers the everyday lives of BAME individuals.

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