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Critical archives for decolonial literacies


Relates the information ethics critique of archives in the decolonial debate for social memory appropriation and cultural knowledge production. The decolonial approach is presented as a critical literacy emergent tendency that searches for evidencing conflicts in the formation of archives, collections and common knowledge in its power relations of historic social constructions. Decolonial theory have been unfolding on many areas and bringing diverse questionings focusing on the plurality of knowledge and ethical preservation, especially on etno-racial relations. This article tries to broad the field of information science production pointing to a fictional problematic frontier of meaning making, dispute and collective reality. Looking for support on a psychoanalysis approach to cultural trauma, Lacan's symbolic contribution helps to evidence perspectives on ways of reporting and constituting social conflict with development of archival devices, communication contends and social memory. The biographical and performance artistic aspects presented, complements decolonial perspectives in what is referred to as “neodocumentalism”, in the field of Information Science, as a poetic character intrinsic in critical literacies of information.

Keywords: criticism, memory, ethics, archive, decoloniality, neodocumentalism



Informational Ethics and its decolonial critique 1

Lacan’s concept of trauma and decolonial violence 2

Biography and Performance 3




PHD student Pedro Vidal Diaz:


Information ethics is an increasingly relevant subject for epistemologically thinking in the area of Information Science. The decolonial critique have developed the postcolonial debate focus on knowledge archives and social memory since it proposed itself to go further than the epistemological rationality based on colonial heritage, evidencing the still condition of coloniality and modernity on contemporary globalization. The documents legitimated and administrated by colonial institutions and officialized by offices and then, to History researchers, now encounters trough decolonial critics, the claim for forgotten and silenced reports, fragmented stories, personal archives, etc. What is the future of colonial archives in postcolonial nations and how should we rethink these archives in relation to decolonial futures?

First as a major affirmation of imperial powers, the collections looted from subjugated areas like Egypt or India, were showed as tamed achievements of state influence and race relativism. Showcased in human zoos and colonial expositions, the racism intrinsic of geopolitical superiority relations marks social memories, partial histories and specific education directories. There is not a decolonial archive per se, but a critical practice of engendering knowledge dynamics of production, creation, development, access, etc. Contributions of decolonial theory unfolds since literary works from colonial past to the third world movement from India to Mexico and Peru authors, and now from world peripheries, black social movements, woman rights and LGBT organizations.

The archive emerged as a focus of interest in a range of (inter)disciplinary contexts. This ‘archival turn’ is partly indebted to a Foucauldian contribution to the political analysis of archive, as an artefact and as diapositives, for knowledge production. This double injunction produces both the interface that are inscribed the knowledge references as well invest itself as an area of symbolic narrative construction for social production. This epistemic shift signaled a complexity change in academic research of the archives, its systems and cultural reflexes.

The archive, we might say, affords access to the past in the present and in so doing shapes futures. The contribution of archives in the ‘development of society’ has been recognized and is foregrounded by international agencies such as UNESCO. We note, for example, the definition of archival value articulated in the Universal Declaration on Archives adopted by the International Council on Archives and endorsed by UNESCO in 2011:

Archives record decisions, actions and memories. Archives are a unique and irreplaceable heritage passed from one generation to another. Archives are managed from creation to preserve their value and meaning. They are authoritative sources of information underpinning accountable and transparent administrative actions. They play an essential role in the development of societies by safeguarding and contributing to individual and community memory. Open access to archives enriches our knowledge of human society, promotes democracy, protects citizens’ rights and enhances the quality of life. (International Council on Archives, 2011, np)

Decolonial authors have situated the discussion of the opening of archives in public spheres for a democratic and transparent approach for civic institutional development. The micropolitics of creating and expressing archives is both contingencies for macropolitics of dominance and its administrative classification as well as an immanent expressions and performative affirmations of narratives and different ways of living.

We will look further at the ‘neodocumentalism’ turn as pointing out artistic and poetic practices as critique of social appropriation of records, archives, documents of social history and memory, emerging form a colonial trauma marking its decolonial propositions. This essay introduces the repertoires of Freud and Lacanian psychoanalyses from Derrida in the discussion of archives and how colonial archives are being reconfigured to imagine democratic, decolonial or even totalitarian futures.

The psychosphere is affected by confusion in the constant flow of clippings and references, failing to extract from the infinite flow a finite explanatory cut as a viable tool for social systems to understand the common, reality, and the possibilities of action. The critical and ethical interpretation of semantic translation is threatened by the short time of the speeds in turn. At the same time, it is especially applied in digital exchange and archiving systems through the economics of information technology. The administrative decision of governance goes through syntactic machines in statistical and economic calculations of the efficiency of syntactic valuation processes of dating, classification and statistical forecast.

The challenge is how to develop literacies for and in information when society is saturated and bombarded by everyday informational content. Understanding knowledge organization formats, their appropriations and their developments, helps us to understand the information and culture devices, as well as to reflect on the formative dimensions corresponding to the historical paradigms that constitute them.

1 Informational ethics and its decolonial critique

Through the multiplication of representations of worldviews, countless artistic forms are developed to embrace cultural differences, economic and political disputes in influences of power, identities and knowledge. Today, given the ongoing globalization processes, studying culture means studying the links between the local and the global, that is, the way in which individuals' lives, in local contexts, are defined and given meaning, specially by the intensification of informational technology. Communities linked to interest groups are often “imagined” and kept active through forms of mediated communication. In these processes, the media still plays a central role in building the sense of belonging, necessary for the survival of the community and for the definition of its own identity within it.

The epistemological focus of translation as an instrument for communicational action encourages practices and experiments for an intercultural and interdisciplinary ethics. Studies about informational hermeneutics in processes of perception, understanding, attention, interaction, creation, etc., are applied by the physical and cognitive paradigms to a social paradigm. The use of algorithms in user dynamics creates taxonomic conditions of probability in an informational mediation hermeneutics, infers diverse dynamics that ultimately lead to media contemporary strategies referenced by “fake News”.

The ethical statement of the approach chosen in this article centers knowledge as a result of the interaction of the subject with the environment, shifting methodological individualism to methodological collectivism. Focused on the issue of educational criticism through artistic experimentation methodologies as tools for symbolic development of informational and social skills, the ethics problematic traverse the political debate of informational and media dynamics.

The debate between approaches and concepts of education ethics in the field of information analysis in contemporary society are often referred to as "Knowledge Societies" or "Information Age". Marking historical debates about the centrality of knowledge where it its productive dynamics have applications diverse, emergent and hegemonic. The accelerated intensification of information technology for studies on the organization of knowledge, and especially for the research line of social appropriation of information, is a new stage and challenge for the constitution of contemporary societies in their democratic and inclusive horizon.

Information ethics focuses on critical educational and political studies for economic and social analysis of their dynamics and possible ways of building and formatting networks. A political ethic can develop norms for abuses of power and guide responsible uses of the common in the context of diverse social informational practices. The unfolding and involvement of the virtual world begins to reverberate diverse and multiple reference universes such as emerging and traditional cultural, social and political ontologies that embrace new network dynamics as well as repeating and translating classic communication strategies.

The Informational Ethics deepened by Luciano Floridi, presents itself as an area of ​​research in development about issues related to the impacts of the technological insertion of information in everyday life, especially in terms of privacy. Information ethics therefore delves into a Philosophy of Information, where it is characterized as "A philosophical area that is related to the critical investigation of the conceptual nature and main bases of information, including its dynamics, use, sciences, and its elaboration and application from theoretical-informational and computational methodologies to philosophical problems” (FLORIDI, 2009, p. 137). Based on the analysis of the directions of information technologies in ethical implications of access, insertion and techno-informational competence, whether in interactive, didactic or privacy issues, we can investigate the conjunction of social issues that are transforming society to other daily life and ways of life.

The contemporary relationship with the appropriation of information is processed at levels of global productive intensity: as an agency to technological systems of economic circulation, at the same time that new local, social, peripheral, ethnic and ethical informational creations are opened in order to organize and produce knowledge and identities. A laboratory practice of diverse records and supports is seen as an informational ethic for literacy and competence in information and media.

In the production of open fields for active and creative subjects, instead of limited access to passive users of an institutional and hierarchical service, they serve as a critical center for the analysis of new literacies and contemporary educational challenges. The difficulty lies precisely in the ethical, productive and sensitive development of technopolitical social developments. In the field of scientific research, it becomes a methodological and epistemological challenge to legitimize socially and economically in the social dynamics of rapid change in the production and use of knowledge and power.

Informational devices (such as the library, school, workshop, etc.) can induce means and spaces for the development of protagonists in cultural, educational and scientific processes triggered by the creative proposal of the constitution of new devices, mechanisms and systems. The production of contemporary informational objects and dynamics faces challenges in the culture of memory that subvert principles of the traditional archive, based on the logic of selection, disposal and organization of documents. A media dynamic, fast and volatile, produces behavior activated by frequencies, compositions and psychosocial crossings.

Derrida’s analyses of the duality of the archive entangle this complex and intrinsic structure showing both the death drive as well the living drive that constitute archival systems and necessity of remembering and preserving. As Derrida has argued, ‘There is no political power without control of the archive’ (1996, p. 11), and nowhere was this more evident than in the context of the colonial archive, in which the colonial state held a monopoly over the production of knowledge, and where one finds the most explicit demonstration of archival power representing a ‘breach of democracy’ (IBID).

The infinite reproducibility of digital information also means an infinite and redundant work with possibilities and remixes of 'copy and paste', turns users into renewable and innovative sources of capital surplus. This is because, with the stage of schematizing techno-scientific knowledge through telematics, the sensory forms of expression through language, automated in multimedia, have intensified its internalized convergence into cerebral and cognitive social systems.

In a broader sense, the difficulty of organizing globally unifying narratives through the accumulation of heritage and social memory in the face of poverty or repression, faces the challenge of transforming these references into objects of knowledge, expanded through the development of institutional education and its improvements by means of research and systematic experimentation. The questionings of this problematics bring out social debates that marks frontiers of what is intended as a conservative narrative and if transformative operations can open to social justice or even if just contributes as a destructive nihilist operation that also contributes to capital derritorialization to scorched earth strategies of social memory.

Since the colonial governments of Europeans modern developments, the media archive’s democratic potential reluctantly opening of its archives to dynamics of transparency, specially to the subjugated and colonized subjects, remained limited and controlled. As a domain for matters of public interest, the public space produced by the colonial archive was as “both constituent on utopia and trauma”, pointed by the authors Basu and De Jong (2016, p.3), unveiling conflicts in archives and its decolonial affordances.

The science of imperial expansion of techniques for social comprehension and management were object of much entailed research in the metropolis development of collections diversity. Always falling short of its promises founded in Enlightenment and Positivism principles, the archive and its libraries or museums, are also utopian institutions. Combining cultural extractivism as the same time that exports modes of production, the cultural clash combines forms of alterity, genocide, submission, pillage and plunder, transforming history processes. Although the utopia was never realized in the colony, even so in the metropolis, subjects still pursue knowledge gathering utopian projects through producing, living and incorporating archival references and systems that also depart from those associated with imperial rule.

Decolonial authors take archives as ‘interruptions’ or ‘interventions’, privileging not so much the legislative aspect of such institutions, but their transformative capacities. Indeed, the concept of the decolonial archive must privilege ‘epistemic disobedience’ in order to generate decolonial freedom (MIGNOLO, 2011). Critical observations on the archive also do not emphasis its classificatory, taxonomic logic, but instead see it as a ‘living’ institution that is by definition incomplete and open to the future as a moving frontier of emergent states and disputing instances.

The relationship between anthropology and the archive has already been explored in the context of imperialism. In the gathering of knowledge, as in 18th- and 19th-century India, natives could only be informants or interpreters, but not scholars. The production of colonial knowledge preceded and informed formats of ethnological and anthropometric data collected by anthropology and military intelligence set to know and manage the extrativism dynamic on world areas of influence.

The author Spivak considers their voices absence in the archives asking: ‘Can the subaltern speak?’ (SPIVAK, 1988). As colonial archives erase the voice of the ‘natives’, to what extent the history of the subalterns could yet be written given their silencing. In this systematic inventory of the production of ‘silences’, archives appear as the decisive moment of fact assembly that determine what kind of stories can be told. Moving from multiculturalism, understood as the recognition of differences within each nation, to an intercultural concept in global geopolitics where societies are diverse across borders, ethics and democratic constitutions undergo globalized tensions in inter-ethnic researches, as well as border discussions that challenge and experience plural paths of knowledge.

As Hall also argues, the archive is always ‘“re-read” in the light of the present and the future’ for such re-readings constitute an archival ‘reprise’: moments of danger that may subvert archival intent even while invoking the archive’s own authority (2001, p. 92). An educational development engaged in its social transformations and in which methodologies and pedagogies can be relevant for a fairer and more inclusive society remains a central point for the sensitive and human recognition of a free and training education not only for professionals, but mainly of engaged and critical thinking citizens. It is necessary to develop an educational ethical sensitivity whose domains are indispensable to the knowledge processes that are currently presented in new pedagogical forms and in emerging processes of (ab)uses of information.

1.1 Lacan’s concept of trauma and decolonial violence

The ethical practice of producing oneself constitutes a critical and intrinsic element to human production in dynamic social formations, mainly of identity, social acceptance, etc. The symbolic interaction in producing, archiving, creating or remembering parts, facts or moments constitutes elementary experimentation to develop and express knowledge. The use of the file is always in an abstract instant, between the need to remember and the updating of the memory through the referring object.

In the psychoanalytic aspect, Lacan develops the concept of the Real as something that always returns to the same place for the subject - the return or the insistence of the signs -, but that the subject may not always find. Trauma is thus linked to a lost Real whose encounter becomes problematic due to the lack or inability of symbolic translation. Trauma is inferred as something difficult to apprehend as a named, classified, predicted event, but which returns in eventual social and real incompatibilities.

Lacan (1964) translates the Aristotelian Tiqué by meeting the contingent real, which is beyond the insistence of signs (that is, it is beyond the called automaton). The automaton, it translates as a network of signifiers, through which something is repeated, insofar as it is submitted to the enjoyment principle. In other words, the automaton corresponds to the automatic unfolding in the unconscious of the significant chain. In the colonial system, such symbolic operations were operated and systematized more intensely in models of nomination and exclusion in the various aspects of colonial life. The metropolis controls and produces the automaton as a symbolic code of languages and customs, inducing and producing a normality more adherent to the conditions of colonial reality, referring to capitalist, slave-owning and eurocentric production. The evidence of constituent violence and oppression is the focus of decolonial praxis and the lack of perception to the inherent violence is cause of social trauma.

In ‘Archive Fever’, Derrida is concerned not just with the mnemonic unreliability of the e archive, but with the repressions and suppressions of the archive: “the superrepressions that seek to exclude the traumatic phantoms that threaten to return from the archive” (DERRIDA, 1996, p. 91). As Freud showed, for repression to be possible, there must be a first nucleus of repression, which, although it does not seem to exist, remains somewhere and calls for all subsequent repression. In Lacan's interpretation, the original repression is exactly the moment when the symbolic is established, leaving out much, including a more immediate relationship with the body – a intrinsic performative and biography endeavor.

In Lacan, trauma is understood as the subject's entry into the symbolic world; it is not an accident in the speaker's life, but constitutive of subjectivity. Thus, in this part of the work, the contribution that Lacan establishes between the notions of trauma and the significant is examined, as well as by the idea of trauma as an uncertain encounter with the Real. According to Lacan's reading, it is in the approximation of traumatic elements, founded on a disintegrated image over which the subject has no control, that lapses are produced in the synthesis of the speaker's history.

The outbreaks of the unconscious and the symptoms are discontinuities in psychic life, attributable to the return of the repressed. They correspond to what Freud called discontinuities in the subject's conscious motivational chain. This gap between the desire of a named object to the return process in which it realizes itself is where trauma can develop. In this incompleteness of the enjoyment of the desired process to fit and return the premises named by the object-desire is where the archive fever, as well the crises of representation also derives.

The tradition notion of psychoanalysis is that because of some inner obstacles that you internalized (like identified excessively with paternal or other social prohibitions), you cannot set yourself free to enjoy. Pleasure and enjoyment are accessible to you only by pathological forms of felling guilty, romantic desire, social status and so on. The psychoanalysis approach allows you to recognize and maybe overcome this internalize prohibitions so that enables you to open and enjoy more freely. The problem today is that the commandment of the ruling (colonial and capitalist) ideologies are set internally specially by information, to enjoy in different ways: it can be sexual enjoyment, consumption commodity enjoyment up to spiritual enjoyment like to “fulfill yourself”. The problem is not how to get rid of your inhibitions and to be able to spontaneously enjoy, but how to get rid of this injunction to enjoy, amplified by social constrains and market imperatives.

The enjoyment usually is experienced as “transgression”, but in its innermost status is something imposed, ordered, always following a certain reaction of an injunction. In psychoanalyses, this injunction is called superego. Civilization needs discontent to establish itself as normal so enjoyment can work in this surplus, constituent of excess. If we subtract the surplus we lose enjoyment itself just as capitalism which survives only by incessantly revolutionizing its own (im)material conditions of production. This then is the homology between surplus value, the cause which sets in motion the capitalist process of production, and surplus-enjoyment, the object-cause of desire. The Lacanian’s concepts of phantasy, object petit a and excess enjoyment, corroborate with Marx’s commodity fetish theory as well helps to understand new forms of racism, xenophobia, social trauma and violence.

Archives functions as testimony of social evidence and also as a trace of social production of injunctions. It works in both education and censorship. The semiotic capitalist fetish of merchandise overflows the references and illusions of reality, accelerating the info-sphere, saturating it with more signs, more simulations in a process of designifying the world – more information less meaning. This movement is fueled by commodification in the recombine time of global network running through production and working dynamics, subjectively deterritorializing social and reality references. This dynamic inflexion on information and its contingencies of reality produces the “pathologization of the psych-sphere” (BERARDI, 2014, p. 33).

Therefore, to produce archives is to produce themselves in their fragments, deciphering and developing symbolic valuations that express it desires, whether conscient or repressed, in excess or in the lack of the effects of self-care. The erased and violated production of the narratives of populations subjugated by colonial systems still faces identity challenges and, mainly, productive in the organization of a freer and more autonomous society.

The decolonial politics inferred by neo-documentalism, with its biographical and performative scope of reenactment, seeks to introduce criticisms evidenced by the Tiqueé in the encounter with the real contingent. The systems of signifiers normalized and automated by the social constituent powers, the automaton, is then put it in check by its critique. The contingent Real, evidenced by Lacan, constitutes itself as a field of action where history can be rewritten or even unfolded in its complex ramifications, points of view and paradoxical truths, revealing constituent powers, intentions and violence. How psychoanalysis's proposals for thinking about the subject can shift and redirect ordinary ways of conceiving the political subject and work lines of tension that cross social space can help to reconfigure it, opening subjugated lines of living history to be resolved on contemporary analyses of social memory and reality.

2 Biography and Performance

From the Greek root of Archon, it inferred to the house of the Head of State, which leads to the notion of archive as a Western phallocentric cultural reference of documents and objects that are visible and guarded on organization display as conquest prizes. Archiving the suppressed, the unheard, forgotten or violent erasure legacies imposes a difficult endeavor and challenge for those who struggle for making a stand in its identity defense, history and ways of living.

The social struggle of popular rights is a political matter than can be performed as a cultural scene to affect others and recollect, introduce and maybe intervene in collective memory and history. The solidarity and empathy as well hatred and disgust are intrinsic to social dynamics of configuring itself through external relations of materiality, psychology and symbolic communication. Seen as Capurro as an ethical and emancipatory instance in the epistemological paradigm of physical, cognitive and social aspects of information:

the epistemological concept of information brings into play processes of non-human information, particularly in physics and biology. And vice versa, the psychological and sociological processes of selection and interpretation must be considered using objective parameters, leaving aside the dimension semantics or, more precisely, considering objective parameters or interpretation situations (CAPURRO; HJORLAND, 2007, p.150).

The archive conjugates a remain that is long to be rescued from disappearance. This recollection is a performed remembrance that can causes memories and affections of what is, can be or it was. To perform a memory is to reenact an event as in its phenomenological and psychological opening for others possibilities of connection and alterity. Remember and input the present body as a dispositive of memory can be an archiving technology as its relation to art and the social contingency. The biographic body can tell histories performing social spaces and be proven of knowledge production as well witness of becoming itself subject and agent.

The difficulty of public understanding the levels of nuances on social dispute marks the importance of intensifying critics to the relation between education, information ethics and its historical disputes. The positivism approach of representation signs the future as representation of the past. The decolonial approach affirms the present performing the past-present, marking a methodology turn. The instability of archive production dynamizes its languages and myths of the sensible world defining a frontier between the fleeting and ephemeral of performance versus the stability and permanence that classical archive and knowledge production affirms it.

Conservatisms of colonial violence and history face new levels of destructed revolution emerging from an unsettled periphery that always had difficulty to demand justice to its own history of persecution and exploration. New ways of understanding archives, history and memory emerges and forward theories of enactment and intervention, while performance concepts proliferate and allow a critical focus and activation of the archival residue.

The neo-documentary approach given by Suzanne Briet (1951) to archive production, in its conceptual radicality, states that everything could be archived or archivable. Not only what is taken as a taxonomic form and reference already legitimated, as in the example of an antelope, but also its varied and clipped expressions can also function as political contexts where archives are produced in a dynamic and constructive symbolic complex character of multi-languages.

The author Bernd Frohmann (2009) takes up the concept of neodocumentalism to instigate this philosophical and sensitive approach of language between document and information, proposing to highlight the “contextual and political agreements, of the systems that form documents, archives and classifications. The neo-documentalism approach encounters the frontier of decolonial politics as it criticizes the archive and its production, fighting to reveal the ideology, the occult or even the unheard expressions of archive.

The ontology of moving images, performing and becoming other, others, choreograph archives and its knowledge organization and representation. This activation of multi representation is the main affirmation for decolonial concept and praxis. The happening of an event provokes the experience of a temporal memory rather than just the classification of an event in facts sequences. The discovery of the subaltern as well the colonial being infers the danger paradox of alterity where the discovery of “others” is already a genocide. Art proposes to think this ‘other’ body outside of this identity regimes build by dualism, colonialism, orientalism, racism, etc., creating sensible contexts. Peggy Phelan reflects on the ontological nature of performance:

Performance’s only life is in the present. Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the calculation of representations of representations: once it does, it becomes something other than performance. To the degree that performance attempts to enter the economy of reproduction, it betrays and lessens the promise of its own ontology. Performance’s being… becomes itself through disappearance. Remaining traceless within the ideologies of capital (1993, p.: 146)

Performance is antithetical to document because of its disappearance nature resisting the “ocular hegemony” of the visible and surveilled remains of this archive. Both, archive and performance, materializes itself through disappearance as the archive itself becomes a social performance of retro-action. The dispute of the notion of ephemerality in performance are a conflict discussion since the archive can only be fixed if by a social performance of value, memory, heritage, patrimony, etc. Diana Taylor asks herself:

Whose memories, traditions and claims to history disappear if performance practices lack the staying power to transmit vital knowledge? (TAYLOR, 2003, p. 21)

Another dimension of the language that performance faces, when writing epistemologies, is the mark in which the methodological notions embedded in culture such as documents, recordings, maps, texts and other materials appear and are used in history. The conflict is not just the written language versus the spoken language, but the static file versus the repertoires of incorporated and distributed knowledge practices. It is not binary or sequential, but interact with intrinsic patterns of exchange and expansion, contingencies in the activation of social and non-organic networks. Such ontological discussions through concepts such as "liveness", "performance remains" and "repertoire" are just a few to deconstruct the dichotomy between performance versus archive. Mediatized recordings of liveness reflect the legacy of aspects of time, object and affect that characterize archival practices.

The inheritance leaves only its erotic simulacrum, its mask of seduction, memories of death, self-obliteration, mourning nostalgia, calling for a 'theatricalisation of the archive', a self-conscious archive, a staged archive, or a anarchive. An anarchiviolithic drive refers to the necessity of remembering by the process of destruction intrinsic to archives. In social history and its conflicts, it becomes a political practice to impose itself by intervening poetically and dramatically in expressions of ways of life and its challenges of becoming present, a being not forgotten. The political archive is conflicting paradoxical in its very nature: it supports the symbolic and/or reveals its hidden aspects.

Fig.3 Lacan’s diagram detail. Source: Google images


Graffited monument statue in Mexico by social movements, July, 2018

Re-interpretating archives dynamic can be exciting and challenging, but we also regard the value and importance of traditional roles of archivists in preserving the legacy of social memory for future generations. The archive, as a technology of surveillance, aspires to generate and configure a complete set of documents on developing subjects and constituting institutions. The archives are sites of hope and aspiration but beyond this, the archives are also sites of political struggle. The archive system is a utopian institution of knowledge as well as a panopticon reification system of control.If we acknowledge that this utopian character of the archive pertains to an archival logic that is not always shared by all people, we must also reconsider the notion of this epistemological utopia and power disputes.

Activists became historians of the counterinsurgency and the archives shapes their sense of self transforming their subjectivities dynamics and its collective social relations. Discerning different ‘archival logics’ opens activations of living testimonies, biographies and performed memories and histories that can put the knowledge classification utopia into knowledge practices, experimenting and turning to social lives dynamics its expressions and struggles of memory and identity.

The panoptic function of colonial archive systems can be appropriated by communities around the world who were formerly subjected to it. Objects of evidence have turned themselves into subjects that produce, and judge, evidences re-shaping ontological frontiers of self-writing. The appropriation and production of archives serves local agendas for the production of situated knowledges and distributed epistemologies. Such a production goes against the modern paradigm of Western epistemology, sometimes conforming to it, entangling or conflicting it. As our descriptions demonstrates, the appropriation and experimentation of archives benefits alternative forms of knowledge and thereby supports the decolonization of epistemologies imposed by the power centers of knowledge.

A decolonial critic literacy for archives refers to those innumerable and intertwined material and immaterial traces left by anticolonial figures, ruins and remains, and active decolonial movements in the twentieth century around the globe. Instead of removing, destroying or protecting statues and polemic patrimony related to violent histories and traumatic memories, an artistic interventional ethics can be developed as a democratic and open monument for social appropriation. Archival imagination is a call to pay attention to emergent and contemporary movements of the present to find situated answers in its becoming’s and reinterpretations of past cultural trauma. For this we call to activate both the historical imagination, which can return to practices of other times to summon its disruptive power over the present and encourage its dimension of the future which can share conflicts and solutions tested in different ways.


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