Emotion in the Archive
October 13–15, 2021
Emotion in the Archive
The symposium Inward Outward investigates the status of moving image and sound archives as they intertwine with questions of coloniality, identity and race, and seeks to bring theory and practice into dialogue by drawing together people from different professional and creative backgrounds. This year’s symposium takes place as a series of sessions spread across October 13–15, 2021, where we’ll gather online. This second Inward Outward edition will focus on Emotion in the Archive, with the archive understood as resting in both physical structures (e.g. national, regional, local or personal) and less tangible “cultural archives’ (e.g. beliefs, knowledge, collective memories, etc.).
As we work to document the current moment, and continue to interrelate our archival workings with the afterlives of colonialism and the identity, memory and racial politics that inform our present, we are moved by discomfort, anger, refusal, love. The work we do in and with archives is implicated in, and/or driven by, the emotional. But how do we document or archive our emotions? How are these captured in both sounds and moving images? How can emotional modes of engagement lead us to work differently in, and with, the archive? What emotions push us to ‘undo’ and ‘unlearn’ the dominant and imperial practices that determine our professional habitus and archival work?
This year, we explore these questions and reflect on them with a keynote address by Ariella Aïsha Azoulay. A curator and filmmaker, Ariella Aïsha Azoulay is also Professor of Modern Culture and Media at the Department of Comparative Literature, Brown University. In her most recent book Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (2019), Azoulay posits that the institutions that are constitutive of our culture and civilization, from archives and museums to ideas of sovereignty, are all determined by imperialist logics. Moving from this, her work invites us to unlearn the archive, unlearn our complicity with regimes of violence, domination and exploitation.
Tying our interest in the role of emotions with Ariella’s invitation to unlearn imperialist frames of history-making, the symposium will offer a keynote address, a workshop on unlearning archival practices, and three sessions focused on emotions IN and OF the archive.
Day 1 – Wednesday October 13, 2021
The closed workshop, led by Carine Zaayman, lecturer in new media and curatorship at the Michaelis School of Fine Art and the Centre for Curating the Archive at Cape Town University, will prompt participants to think in concrete, creative and ethical terms about unlearning imperialism in their roles as archive workers, and acknowledging the emotional implications of doing this work. Riffing off Azoulay’s call to imagine museum workers going on strike, Carine Zaayman opens the workshop onto imaginative interpretations and invites participants to bring material from their institution that calls for special care, to be discussed and analyzed in the context of Azoulay’s provocations to unlearn imperialism in archival and museum practices.
The workshop is closed due to limits of time and the mechanics of working together online. If you are interested in participating in future Inward Outward workshops, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
→ Carine Zaayman
*Time listed as CET*
Anger and defiance undergird the archive. In its power to determine which voices of the past are heard, and in its capacity to collect and organize the present, the archive is a catalyst to anger, felt through the painful documents and objects it houses and the politics that surround its collection-building and access (or lack thereof). In a conversation with Amal Alhaag and Teresa Cisneros, we explore how we engage with stubborn archives and the cultural structures that house them. What strategies exist to navigate working within institutions that are forged by histories of imperialism? Which political and cultural communities are created or contested through our curatorial and archival choices, and how, as individual archivists, do we navigate multiple belongings to these groups? How can anger and defiance become generative of new archival workings and modes of engagement with visual and sonic objects, peoples and places that are entangled through our archival encounters?
The conversation with Amal and Teresa is followed by two presentations from Daniela Agostinho titled Archival Encounters: Colonial Images, Latent Histories, about the untold stories in digitised material, and Julie Métais about voice and the (sound) archive, and the way it engages emotions.
→ Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken
Day 2 – Thursday October 14, 2021
*Time listed as CET*
Archival work entails a relentless engagement with the twinned affects of shame and guilt. In this session, we are interested in exploring how shame and guilt function, and why they are such powerful organizing emotions of archival work. We kickstart this session with a talk by Eliza Steinbock, Associate Professor of Gender and Diversity Studies at Maastricht University. Taking up the movements of inward/outward to discuss shame and guilt, Eliza will speak to the whiteness of experiencing shame and guilt in relation to structural racism, racist speech acts, and to ongoing forms of coloniality. Eliza draws on the conceptualization of guilt and shame as affects to insist on their social life and the particular individualizing effect they operate. Accounting for how gendered and racialized forms of sexualization intersect with the affects of shame and guilt complex is imperative to understanding what is moving outward, what is moving inward, and what or even who needs to move in response to criticism of colonial collections by visitors who are in and out of them at the same time.
The conversation with Eliza is followed by a presentation from the Amsterdam Museum’s Inez Blanca van der Scheer and Imara Limon, and a performative lecture from Mirjam Linschooten and Sameer Farooq titled The Museum Visits a Therapist: Shame and Display in the Ethnographic Archive.
→ Eliza Steinbock
→ Priya Swamy
Day 3 – Friday October 15, 2021
*Time listed as CET*
To acknowledge defiance, anger, shame and guilt as constitutive of the archive, entails addressing the sister emotions of love and compassion as equally generative of our compulsion to document and collect. In conversation with Cécile Accilien, Professor of Haitian Studies and chair in the Interdisciplinary Studies Department at Kennesaw State University, we explore the ambivalent workings of love and compassion in the archive, as they both drive us to hold the stories we cherish and participate in the construction of patronizing politics of nationhood.
The conversation with Cécile Accilien is followed by presentations from Mary Huelsbeck on the project Love Tapes by video artist Wendy Clarke, a collection of video recordings of 2,500 people who share their personal feelings about love recorded between 1977 and 1989; Jue Yang with a performance lecture about the colonial gaze in archival footage from the early 20th century; and Stephanie Sapienza who will present her work on The Lakeland Community Heritage Project, grassroots efforts to build an archive of a dying neighborhood.
→ Cécile Accilien
→ Wigbertson Julian Isenia
*Time listed as CET*
As part of the Inward Outward symposium, we have invited Prof. Ariella Aïsha Azoulay to provide a keynote lecture in collaboration with the Research Center for Material Culture’s Thinking With conversation series. In this keynote lecture and conversation with Wayne Modest, which takes the form of both an experimental reflection on in-progress work on her most recent work on Algeria, Ariella Aïsha Azoulay honors what in Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (Verso, 2020), she describes as “a mode of being with others differently,” through “rehearsals in nonimperial political thinking and archival practice” (10).
More specifically, Azoulay engages the “double disappearance of the Jews from Africa and from the French colonisation of North Africa” “engaging with the traces of the disappearance” through “jewelry pieces and other metal works.” Her talk and conversation follows on her recent open letter in the Boston Review to historian Benjamin Stora, thinking through a kinship among Jews and Muslims in the Maghreb, “[o]ur ancestors in the Maghreb [who] were directly victimized by colonial violence, even as they gradually accepted the bargains imposed on them through” the multiple exiles force upon them by “imperial crimes” and their afterlives.
→ Ariella Aïsha Azoulay
→ Wayne Modest
Day 4 – Monday October 18, 2021
If you have any questions please reach out to us at email@example.com .
Registration will remain open throughout the duration of the symposium.
If you need your unique Zoom link again please send us an email.
All times listed in the programme are the CET time zone.
Call for Presentations
Archival practitioners, artists, filmmakers, curators and more were invited to submit a proposal for the Inward Outward 2021 Call for Presentations.
The CFP is closed, but you are welcome to download the call to read more about the starting point for the 2021 symposium edition.