Archival Engagement | TRANSIT

CFP TRANSIT Journal: Volume 13.2

2021-2022: Archival Engagement 

In the spirit of the ongoing workshop series “Archives of Migration: The Power of Fiction in Times of Fake News, which features contemporary writers who creatively resist prevailing forms of truth, knowledge, and archival practices, TRANSIT invites investigations into critical and artistic attempts to challenge conceptions of the archive as a static, objective site of knowledge. What socio-historical conditions inspire archival engagement? How have such practices taken place in literary, artistic, digital media, and geographical spaces? What is the archive attempting to save from perishing and what does it seek to preserve for the future? What are the stakes of archival misuse and misappropriation and what are the parameters for such assessments? Who archives, and what merits archivization? 

The concept of the “archive” has been metaphorically engaged with across a variety of disciplines (including anthropology, psychology, history, film and media studies, literature, philosophy), and maintains its ambiguity even within its more specific usages, e.g. “postcolonial archive,” “archival consciousness,” “the poetics of the archive,” “the ethnographic archive,” “archival reason.” Though the conventional definition of the term connotes an objective storage of material, scholars like Derrida, Foucault, and Benjamin call attention to the archive’s selective and subjective nature; rather than a terminology that broadly encompasses collections and preservation, the “archive” highlights ongoing processes of negotiation, interpretation, and human engagement. For example, as we witness the continued rise of right-wing movements and acquire an increased awareness of the persistence of systemic racism and sexism, Annika Orich’s call for a practice of “archival resistance,” in which one reads across time, media, and borders to counter the rising control of Germany’s New Right, becomes especially pertinent.

TRANSIT invites investigations into archival practices that address the following topics:

The Post-colonial Archive: How does archival engagement contribute to reanimating lost, silenced, and marginalized voices of colonial history? Can archival engagement productively resist oppressive structures of knowledge and power?

The Political Archive: Can archival engagement incite movements of solidarity, resistance, and change? How do archival practices contribute to investments in socio-political spheres, and how do archives configure in the development of democratic, liberal citizenships?

The Digital and Material Archive: How can we understand archival practices through their materiality and digitality? How has the most recent period of mass digitalization and renewed caution towards touch (resulting from the global pandemic) affected our relationship to material objects?

Archives of Knowledge: What might we gain from an etiological understanding of the archive that focuses on origin and causation, whether of disease, knowledge, affect, or memory? Who are the actors and agents involved in such mythologies of the archive?

Archives in the Arts: How are the parameters of the archive critically challenged in the disciplines of the arts, including film, performance studies, and literature? How have certain writers, artists, and filmmakers creatively engaged with archival collections and understandings? How do specific galleries, curations, and exhibitions contribute to renewed understandings of the embeddedness of archives, knowledge, and power?

Memory and the Archive: What is the archive’s role in formations of national consciousness and public memory? How do public and private archives affect processes of meaning-making and narrativization? 

This CFP encourages contributions from all fields that engage with German language, culture and thought. Such disciplines include but are not limited to literary studies, language pedagogy, history, film and media studies, performance studies, geography, philosophy, translation, critical theory, and anthropology. English- or German-language papers or projects are due for editorial review by October 15, 2021. Please see our submission guidelines and email: CC (Elizabeth Sun, Managing Editor).