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Fugitives: Anarchival Materiality in Archives

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In analog and digital archives, issues of material loss are met with tools of resistance, ranging from simple freezers, to fire-resistant bunkers, to complex robotic systems. While entropy is usually resisted by archivists, this paper draws attention to what we call anarchival materiality, or the generative force of entropy in archives. We theorize anarchival materiality through our oral history research with archivists and curators and parallel video and photography work in the British Columbia Provincial Archives. We describe how non-human archives and their human stewards both constrain and enable preservation. Classification systems, spatial organization and human responsibilities are all fundamentally reshaped and determined by the uncooperative residents of archives, who constantly remind their caretakers of the transformative and organic passage of time.
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Keywords: BC provincial archives; anarchival materiality; archive; fugitive; photography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT) Simon Fraser University 2: School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria; School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT) Simon Fraser University

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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