Session 1.1 - Archival activism and the social [media] archives


Blanca Bazaco, Valerie Love, Vicenç Ruiz-Gómez

Date Added:

22 October 2019

Chair: Antonio González Quintana, President of Archiveros Españoles en la Función Pública(AEFP)/Association of Spanish Archivists in Public Bodies

Tuesday, October 22 2019

a. Another archive is possible by Blanca Bazaco

The purpose of this presentation is to ask oneself about archives that are created from special material that, in principle, not being strictly paper documents (not even in their electronic aspect), are not the object of Archivistics. However, they could become such because they act as a testimony of society's reaction to exceptional situations, for example a terrorist attack, a natural catastrophe, a social movement that takes on special relevance, and so on. In order to establish the limits that may help to frame this type of archives within our profession, cases will be studied such as the Archivo del Duelo, created in Madrid as a result of the 11 M attacks; the Archivo del 15 M, created by a political movement with global repercussions in Spain, similar to the Occupy Wall Street, an archive with similar characteristics that has also been created (The Occupy Archive); The May Archive, which documents French 68; Witness' proposal to make video a tool for fighting for human rights; September 11, 2001, Documentary Project housed in the American Folklife Center, and others. The aim is to find out if these "archives" - museums for some - are truly archives, without quotation marks. To study their formation, their evolution, the impact they cause, the function they perform to make a comparison between them, and, with this information, to elaborate a proposal of limits, perhaps a sub-categorization in the Archives, or perhaps to conclude that they fall within an already established category, or that they do not even form part of our profession.

The interest lies in the fact that Archivistics has not dealt with this subject in a global manner, although it has dealt with specific cases, so, it is intended to be a novel study. An added value to this research is that these are cases in which ordinary citizens are the ones who generated these Archives. These people, who are far from the archival environment, either because of their relationship with the Administration, or because they are not researchers, or because they have never needed the services of Archives, become the protagonists of them. The aim is to extend the traditional limits of our profession, to accommodate a world that is increasingly horizontal, more mediatic, with more diffuse frontiers. And far from being something forced, the intention is to demonstrate that, in reality, these "different" archives fit within the paradigms of our profession.



Blanca Bazaco has worked as an archivist in different public and private Administrations of Spain since 1996, such as the Archive Inspection Unit of Madrid, the Registry of the Intellectual Property or the Refugee Reception Center. She has also provided training on record management courses in Spain and in the refugee camps of Tindouf (Algeria); has translated some archivist texts for UNESCO; and has participated in various international meetings such as the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, or in UNESCO and ICA Conferences.


b. Preserving the ‘We are Beneficiaries’ Project at the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa by Valerie Love

In July 2017, Metiria Turei, co-leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, spoke publicly about her experiences as a single mother on social welfare in the 1990s. In sharing her own story of feeling forced to lie about her flatting situation in order to provide for her infant daughter, she advocated for a more compassionate system, and for greater support for families and children living in poverty. Following her speech, the hashtag, #IamMetiria began trending on Twitter. However, there was also a strong backlash against her, and three weeks after her speech, Turei resigned citing “unbearable” scrutiny on her family.

In the wake of Turei’s resignation, a group of artists began sharing their experiences as beneficiaries and creating art to document the struggles of current and former beneficiaries in Aotearoa New Zealand. This resulted in the ‘We are Beneficiaries’ project, which began sharing these visual stories online via social media. Since its launch in August 2017, the ‘We are Beneficiaries’ project has collected, illustrated, and posted over 240 stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and is still ongoing.

In January 2018, the Alexander Turnbull Library, the archives and special collections for the National Library of New Zealand, began working with the ‘We are Beneficiaries’ project to collect the digital artwork, administrative materials from the project, and the social media accounts, and preserve these materials as part of the National Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA).

This presentation will focus on the collaboration and partnership which underpinned the project from the start – from the digital collaboration between artists and beneficiaries via social media – and the continued collaboration and partnership between the project and the Alexander Turnbull Library in helping to preserve its digital artworks and documentation long-term, while working with the project in real time. The talk will also detail the acquisition, appraisal, processing, preservation, and access framework for the collection. It will also discuss curatorial decisions made to ensure that the Library’s work with the project aligned with the original intention and focus of ‘We are Beneficiaries’ to amplify the voices which go generally unheard, while respecting the privacy and anonymity of both the artists and those who shared their stories. Finally, the presentation will detail related social media documentation projects which grew out of this initial collaboration.



Valerie Love is the Senior Digital Archivist at the National Library of New Zealand and is responsible for the acquisition, ingest and management of born-digital heritage collections. She has extensive experience in processing born-digital archival collections, with a particular focus on appraisal, arrangement and description, and workflow management. Prior to moving to New Zealand in 2011, Valerie worked as Curator for Human Rights Collections at the University of Connecticut, USA.


c. #Cuentalo. Walking the path between archival activism and the social archive by Vicenç Ruiz-Gómez

On 26 April 2018, a Spanish Court imposed an incredibly light sentence to five men known as “The Wolfpack”, accused of gang-raping a woman. That fact aroused a wave of indignation across the country. Two days later the journalist Cristina Fallarás published the first tweet of the hashtag #Cuentalo (#ExplainIt), aiming women to explain, using the first person, cases of sexual abuse. At that time, the Catalan Society of Archivists and Records Managers (AAC) had already begun an ongoing project of surveillance and capture of socially relevant hashtags,  the most significant being the one generated by Las Ramblas terrorist attack in Barcelona (#NoTincPor) or the ones linked to the #CatalanReferendum, using the methodology and tools developed by Documenting the Now.

It was, though, with #Cuéntalo that we decided to explore a model of social archive, from its capture to its contextualization and diffusion, since we understood that this hashtag was born as a digital community archive, used as a tool of reparation and civic empowerment in the fight against male violence. So, to attain this final goal, we decided to start by creating a community of practice and work cooperatively with the promoter of the hashtag, with a data journalist, and with the team of analytic and data visualization of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS).

We have divided the project in three different stages. This communication will focus on the first one, developed during 2018 through three main axes: the design of the archival methodology; the data analysis and visualization from #Cuéntalo; and, the building of an institutional and social awareness campaign.

Regarding the first axis, the essential outputs have been the capture of #Cuéntalo and other hashtags related to male violence, the design of a theoretical and methodological framework and the creation of the initial website ( Regarding the second axis, the BSC-CNS has designed an algorithm for the processing of natural language that has automatized the categorization of 150.000 original tweets (of a total of 2.7 million from 60 countries gathered by this hashtag) and has created an interactive data visualization. Finally, regarding the institutional and social awareness campaign, we have carried out meetings with different administrations and social agents, and we have published several articles and interviews in the media and have presented the results in two public events.


Vicenç Ruiz is the current Board member in charge of Research Projects of the Society of Catalan Archivists and Records Managers and was the former Vicepresident (2013-2017). He worked as Head of the Archive Unit in the Society of Catalan Public Notaries and teaches archival science at the Graduate School of Archival Science and Records Management (Autonomous University of Barcelona). He holds a History PhD and a Diploma in Archival Science (Archivio di Stato di Roma).​