Community Archives and the Future

Written by appalarchive

What does the past have to do with a more just and equitable future? How can community-based archives preserve and disseminate marginalized histories? These themes were explored through an archivist-led track at the 19th annual Allied Media Conference (AMC), a Detroit-based gathering of community of filmmakers, radio producers, technologists, youth organizers, writers, entrepreneurs, and artists.

For the June conference, Appalshop Archive partnered with Esperanza Peace & Justice Center and a group of independent archivists to coordinate a track of sessions entitled Disrupting Mainstream History. The coordinators convened a diverse group of presenters to explore how community-based storytelling and archiving can affirm and support a spirit of self-worth, and to consider the power of connecting the past to the present in advancement of social good. The track’s panels and workshops included digital projects that document and connect the histories of diaspora populations (Dalit History Month), indigenous people (Translating Legends), and grassroots civil rights organizations (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee). The community-based Detroit magazine Riverwise led a discussion on combining print & digital media to amplify local stories and imagine the city’s future, while Media Burn Archive & Yollocalli Arts Reach discussed “Chicago Slices,” a project that trains youth media producers in the “remixing” of archival footage to examine narratives about history, community, and public policy. The track also provided a space for AMC members who are engaged in library and archival work to discuss strategies for navigating power dynamics in traditional academic institutions.

Image: Jenkins, KY coal community resident, c.1940s. From The William R. “Pictureman” Mullins Collection, Appalshop Archive.


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