Cataloguing Publics (July 2011)

“Cataloguing Publics: Archives and Social Movements”

In this paper, I use the site of autonomous archives as a means to explore the constitutive, relational, and institutional dimensions evident in public formations of social movements. Demonstrating anarchistic tendencies of remaining at a critical distance from the state and serving as spaces of mutual aid, autonomous archives are resources of publicity and public action that assemble evidence of alternative modes and visions of social and political engagement. Inversely, they also bear witness to the contradictions and struggles that accompany social transformation, particularly as these movements confront and incorporate institutional organizing forms, fixing and privileging some practices over others. Reflecting on an archive of a tactical housing squat that emerged during a social housing movement in Vancouver in 2002, I explore the constitutive, relational, and institutional practices of this social movement public, as well as consider the politics of memory in the paradoxical context of movement and institutional practices.

Presented at the “Creating Publics Workshop,” Open University and Westminster University, London (July 2011).

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