I am reading, with great pleasure, Randall Jimerson’s newly published Archives Power: Memory, Accountability and Social Justice (2009; Society of American Archivists). The book addresses the role of archives and archivists in society, and evolving perspectives on their relevance to larger issues of social justice. SAA’s blurb: “Grounded in historical and social theory, this analysis of the power of archives and the role of archivists in society calls for renewed emphasis on remembrance, evidence, and documentation as a means of securing open government, accountability, diversity, and social justice, within an archival ethics of professional and societal responsibility.”
The book’s introduction is a reworked version of Jimerson’s excellent SAA Presidential address from 2005, called “Embracing the Power of Archives” and available on the SAA site. Like Terry Cook, Verne Harris and others, Jimerson eschews the notion of archival neutrality and urges archivists to accept and embrace the realities of power, politics and social responsibility which are inherent in the work we do. I’m only on chapter two so I will write more when I’ve finished.
There is also a new blog called the Documentalist: the human rights blog from the Center for Research Libraries Global Resources Network. The first post, from human rights project coordinator Sarah Van Deusen Phillips, is about archiving twitter tweets. Sarah is researching issues pertaining to documentation and archiving of electronic and online human rights records and media. Her blog discusses the work of the Web Ecology Project, a collaborative, unfunded research group interested in social media and social processes of the internet. It’s fascinating; I am wondering if anyone has attempted to archive within the human rights or activism realm, for example, the Iran election twitter feeds.