Digging Where We Stand: Social Movement Activists and the ‘‘Inevitably Political Craft” of Archiving and History-Making

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

This talk will draw on the speaker’s experience of working with and research into the establishment and use by social movement activists of independent archives, libraries and museums for history-making practices which directly inform and impact their struggles. Activists in the UK (and elsewhere) have a long history of creating their own alternative memory and archival spaces with physical and digital collections which function not only as a resource for activist learning and contemporary campaigning but also as spaces for historically informed discussion and debates and for the production of a range of ‘useful’ and politically-engaged historical publications. Making reference to the works of activist scholars such as Hall, Lindquist, Zinn and Choudry, this talk will use international examples to explore the different motivations, objectives and activities associated with physical and digital activist archival endeavours and the impact that these activities can have on social movement struggles.

Andrew Flinn is a Reader in Archival Studies and Oral History in the Department of Information Studies at University College London. His background is in social history research (in particular labour, communist, trade union and cooperative activists) and his main areas of interest include: oral history, archives and public history; community-based archives and knowledge-production; participatory and collaborative archival and heritage practice; documenting the activities of political movements, particularly grassroots political activity and the use of history by and heritage by activists. His publications include (with Duff and Wallace) Archives and Social Justice (forthcoming Routledge 2019), ‘Working with the past: making history of struggle part of the struggle’ in Reflections on Knowledge, Learning and Social Movements (eds Aziz & Vally, 2018) and 'Community Archives' in Encyclopaedia of Archival Science (eds Duranti & Franks 2015).