Back-ups for the future: Archival practices for data activism

Morgan E. Currie*, Britt S. Paris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Literature on activist archiving theorizes the power of recordkeeping to give voice to marginalised communities. However, missing from this archival literature are analyses about the political practice of preserving data as an act of grassroots resistance. Simultaneously, existing scholarly literature on grassroots data activism revolves around the creation of new statistical representations to challenge official ones. This literature has largely ignored what will happen to this data over the long-term, nor has it treated data archiving as an activist project in its own right. This theoretical article seeks to close the gap between literature on archival activism and literature on data activism, in hopes that both sets of research can draw productively from each other. There are clear affinities between activist archives and data activism: both address the failure by mainstream institutions to account for marginal voices, both have the power to make issues visible and legitimate within the public sphere, and both experiment with traditional forms of memory and statistical evidence. We believe that these two powerful forms of activity have much to learn from each other, particularly as the need to steward data over the long term will only grow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-142
Number of pages19
JournalArchives and Manuscripts
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • data activism
  • archival activism
  • community archives
  • critical data studies


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