Tracing and Placing Lives and Afterlives in the Archives

Authors: Denisse Andrade*, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Topics: Cultural Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: archives, methods, historical geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Virginia B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


How we understand and experience geography is the result of mediated processes of power and resistance. We can think of all forms of knowledge in a similar way, and this becomes particularly evident in the archive, which forces us to question how it came to be, what it reveals, and what it occludes, not in the material itself but in the politics that produced it. In approaching a historical geography, one that foregrounds social movements as whole, and more specifically, black radicalism, the archive becomes a terrain for interpretation, speculation, and where absences and presences, origins and destinations emerge. As a method, the archive serves to guide us in revisiting a past in order to think about the constructedness of history not as a summation of traces, but in its repercussions on how we locate, ground. and categorize the lives and afterlives it contains. Drawing from my own experience in working with a myriad of archival collections in the United States, I will use these questions and theorizations to address the ways in which I have worked with and against the archive, and what it has afforded me in building a narrative that accounts for the refusal to forget and be forgotten, to use literary scholar Saidiya Hartman’s (2008) words, while at the same time building a web of relations the archive itself takes for granted.

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