Independent and Alternative Archives in the Arab World
June 8, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
This lecture with Kristine Khouri is part of the Middle East Librarians Association (MELA) Social Justice Lecture Series 2021-2022 season, “⸮Neutral / حياد / بی طرف / tarafsız?: Heritage, Colonialism and Diversity in Middle East Libraries and Archives.” For more information, and to view recorded lectures from the last season, see our page on MELA’s website (https://bit.ly/MELASJSeries).
For the last two decades, the Arab world has seen an emergence of alternative archival initiatives and practices that operate between and outside traditional sites of knowledge production, namely the fields of cinema, art, academia, and civil society. These endeavors have come about not only in response to the need to document recent histories, but also due to the challenges of doing historical research, particularly research on the twentieth century, as well as in response to the insufficiency of or dissatisfaction with existing official and national narratives and histories.
These initiatives, endeavors, and practices produce new narratives and alternative or imaginative histories of current and past times. Responding to and resisting dominant, state-centered histories and discourses, those behind these projects actively claim agency over histories through these independent, grassroots endeavors. At the same time, these independent initiatives are fragile and operate in precarious spaces with numerous challenges. The presentation will share a range of these independent archives/initiatives and ask about ways in which transnational and collective work can offer stability, even if momentarily.