(A)rchival endeavors should not be about documenting the past, nor even about imagining the future…but about building a liberatory now. - Michelle Caswell, Urgent Archives: Enacting Liberatory Memory Work (2021, 13)
The biennial Global Audiovisual Archiving Conference is an opportunity for scholars, archivists, artists, curators, filmmakers, students, and film enthusiasts from across the world to gather and explore contemporary professional, artistic, and socio-political issues affecting audiovisual heritage today. The aim of the conference is to broaden the knowledge and connections within the global archival community, leading to new insights into the material and cultural resonances of archival approaches to sound and moving image in different parts of the world.
Audiovisual archives are being redefined by the communities who care for and use them. In the 21st century, new names for archival collections and new approaches to archives are helping to shape collective histories, often informed by a plurality of regional, local, activist, and cultural communities rather than broadly based nationalist identities. These are fostering new understandings of what it means to “decolonize memory institutions” such as public archives, cultural memory centres, galleries, and museums (Thorkelson, 2019) as well as de facto repositories or accidental archives (Cheeka, 2023) such as media distribution centres, co-ops, academic institutions, and public libraries – not to mention all kinds of private and personal archives. The problems that smaller archives face include a lack of space for storage, funds to access digitization technologies (Declercq, 2020; Suárez, 2021), and the specialised labour, informed by archival training in best practices that are often required to safeguard material histories, especially those carried by analogue and born-digital media (Jaillant, 2022; Liebermann, 2021; Moravec, 2021). Often these “best practices” are drawn by richer institutions, without due consideration of or engagement with the contexts, resources, and politics of other regions. Equally important is the reuse and co-creation of media that activates archival materials in novel ways for contemporary audiences in a way that ensures their longevity.
There is no doubt that the practices of “doing archives” are “on fire” around the world (Caswell, 2021; Chew et al., 2018; Paalman et al., 2021).
The 2nd Global Audiovisual Archiving Conference invites papers and presentations in a variety of formats that address the challenges and generative opportunities afforded by diverse media archives, from those that are publicly/privately funded to those surviving on very little support. We are especially interested in marginalised audiovisual archives, whether collections vulnerable to disappearance and inaccessibility or archives that are invisible and need to come into being. Central to our conference is the importance of identifying gaps in the field, building bridges, creating archival networks, fostering collaborations (Pretlove, 2021), and uncovering or deepening alliances (Heidiger et al., 2021). Such approaches may be tied to designing practices of care (Campanini, 2023) and pedagogical approaches for the next generation of archivists, artists, activists, humanists, and historians in ways that are inclusive, expansive, liberatory, and that might reinvent and redefine archival language and protocols. The conference also explores the emergence of theoretical questions, and novel ways of understanding history through notions of entanglement (Namhila and Hillebrecht, 2022) and redefinitions of allyship and stewardship that mark a critical paradigm shift in the field of archival studies.
The organisation encourages proposals from participants located in parts of the world and on topics that are underrepresented in conferences related to audiovisual heritage.
The programming committee will be especially interested in proposals that address the following topics which include but are not limited to:
- Human rights frameworks and archives; activist archives; social justice
- Archival protocols and languages of Indigenous and other communities of traditional knowledge; living archives and ancestral memory; decolonizing practice and policy
- Women’s archives and networks and feminist ethics of care
- Queer LGBTQS+ archives and collaborations
- Critical disabilities in the archives; building accessible archives
- Mobile archival engagements with remote or underserved communities
- Enriching metadata on sensitive objects; improving metadata language(s) for enhancing access and collaboration on a global scale
New Approaches to Archiving
- Decolonizing the archive; decolonial and postcolonial approaches to archiving and archival studies
- Sustainable approaches to archiving: environments, climate change and disappearing archives, planetary archives
- Identifying archives at risk and sharing resources
- Developing new networks, kinships, collaborations, and alliances; sharing resources across political/cultural, economic, and geographic spheres
- Transnational, transcontinental, translocal archival projects and networks
- Global repatriation efforts across borders and governments; digital forms of repatriation
- New approaches to archival pedagogy; training the next generation of archivists
- Participatory and communal forms of archiving; building sustainable cooperative projects in AV archiving; recognizing the invisible labour(ers) at the archive
- Addressing financial inequality across archives across borders in neoliberal contexts; finding alternatives to neo colonial financial structures
Theoretical and Activation Insights
- Creative activations of archives through artist residencies and community collaborations
- Building bridges between academic, archival, and cultural communities that use archives
- Theory building: what can we learn from the new theoretical questions (ontology of the archives), and creative artistic approaches to working with archives?
- The alternate histories of audiovisual heritage and culture thanks to new, inclusive archival practices
- The future of archives and archiving; new approaches to digitization; digital archives, platforms, and repositories
2nd Global Audiovisual Archiving Conference: Exchange of Knowledge and Practices
Place/Dates: Toronto, Canada, 12th - 14th July 2024
Organization: Archive/Counter-Archive, Eye Filmmuseum, and the Toronto International Film Festival® (TIFF)
Deadline for submissions: 1 October 2023