CFP: Archive/Anarchive/Counter-Archive

Special issue #57 Public: Art/Culture/Ideas

Capture d_écran 2017-04-25 à 18.02.36Charles Merewether has pointed out that the archive in the modern era – official or personal – has “become the most significant means by which historical knowledge and memory are collected, stored, and recovered. The archive has thus emerged as a key site of inquiry in such fields as anthropology, critical theory, history, and, especially, recent art” (Merewether 2006). Theorizations of the archive that have come from feminist and queer scholars have provoked a reconsideration of the authority given the archive and of what the archive contains—the archive is both a contested site and a medium, and, in some cases an artwork (Simone Osthoff 2009). We should not see anarchives or counter-archives as simply oppositional. Brett Kashmere (2010) sees the ‘counter-archive’ as growing out of the digital age. Even if early photography and MI challenged the stability of the archive creating defacto the counter-archive, as Paula Amad argues (2010), the “archival turn” of the 1990s is marked by the rise of ephemeral counter-archival and anarchival practices that bring a heterogeneity and different media and materials into archives along with performance tactics (Eichhorn 2013; Taylor 2003). In the LGBT2Q and feminist communities, archives emerge from collaborative processes that mirror the network and non-profit mode of collective feminist organizing (McKinney 2015), and non-institutional performative approaches to safekeeping history because archival institutions have historically overlooked their value. Counter-archives are ‘an incomplete and unstable repository, an entity to be contested and expanded through clandestine acts, a space of impermanence and play’, while in practice, the counter-archive ‘entails mischief and imagination, challenging the record of official history’ (Kashmere). Both Anarchives and counter-archives can be political, ingenious, resistant, and community based. They are embodied differently and have explicit intention to historicize differently, to disrupt conventional national narratives, to write difference into public accounts. Dylan Robinson has explained how indigenous archives require counter archival approaches that use the tools of art making as social practice to create 21st century indigenous approaches to archives (2017). Archive/Anarchive/Counter-Archive will locate new solidarities in these diverse approaches to history, archives and their activation. We seek critical speculations, scholarly essays and creative projects that engage with the changing nature of history in the age of the post-digital archive. This issue of Public: Art/Culture/Ideas will seek to learn from these new configurations.  Topics can include:

–Case studies of difficult and troubling archives or anarchives

–Theorizing the counter-archive in the 21st century

–Lost archives of diasporic cultures

–Living Archives

–Indigenous Archives

–New approaches to Activating the Archives through Performance

–Archives as pedagogies

–The material cultures of archives

–The generative capacity of archives

–Feminist and Queer Archives

–The database archive and memory

–Visual ecologies of the archive

–Total Archives

–mourning the archive

Abstracts 250 words: June 1st, 2017


Text and project deadline (3-6,000 words): September 1st, 2017

Please send proposal, c.v. and brief bio to:


PUBLIC: Art/Culture/Ideas is a peer-reviewed journal that explores the intersection of visual culture and critical studies. Since 1988, it has served as an intellectual and creative forum that focuses on how aesthetic, theoretical and critical issues intermix. In each themed issue, PUBLIC encourages a broad range of dialogue by bringing together artists, theorists, curators, philosophers, creative writers and historians. For further information, visit



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