Archive and Appropriation
The new double issue of e-misférica (volume 9, issues 1 and 2), guest edited by Marianne Hirsch and Diana Taylor, has just been released. I’m happy to have my review of Laura Mullen’s latest book Dark Archive (University of California Press, 2011) in the issue. Here’s a paragraph from the editorial introduction:
Why the archive now? How has the term become so ubiquitous and so capacious—encompassing the collection, the inventory, the library, the museum, and even the corpus of our scholarly projects, or the references we use? Why have archives, and archival practices become so central to our understanding of our historical moment and of ourselves as subjects of history? More than a repository of objects or texts, the archive is also the process of selecting, ordering and preserving the past. It is simultaneously any accessible collection that potentially yields data, and a site for critical reflection and contestation of its social, political, and historical construction. The archive is also a widespread social practice. We archive ourselves in action, in our files, and on our shelves, as well as on Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and in photos and videos, through every available medium. What is more, the archive is also fertile ground for artists and performers who use and at the same time critique its construction.