Decolonising the Archive Webinar

28 September 2021, 6pm – 8pm BST, Online

This two-hour webinar from the Decolonising Arts Institute focuses on the theories and practices of decolonising archives.

This webinar led by Dr Elisa Adami, Decolonising Arts Institute residency programme alumna and convenor, will explore what a critical praxis of decolonisation of the archive can look like, by focusing on a few examples from the fields of the arts, poetry and critical theory. We will consider a number of practical questions, such as:

  • How can we address issues of positionality in ways that are transparent, (self-)reflective and ethically responsible?
  • How to forge intersectional solidarities that centre and empower historically or presently colonised communities, rather than silencing them in the pursuit of extracting commodifiable knowledge.
  • How to re-connect stories that were/are forcibly fragmented in processes of colonisation and to re-compose resilient and insurgent bodies of knowledge that were/are segregated, displaced, and suppressed in their archival afterlives.
  • How to activate an archive without reiterating or reproducing the violence contained in its documents and/or enacted in the imperial infrastructure of archival technologies.

We will attend to various forms of redress and repair, including Saidiya Hartman’s notion of ‘critical fabulation’; subversive poetical appropriations of legal texts and governmental acts by writers such as M. Nourbuse Philip, Natalie Harkin, Layli Long Soldier; gestures of ‘refusal within research’ (Tuck & Yang); and the re-composition of dispersed and exiled fragments of resilient archives (Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa).


Who should attend this session?

This webinar is aimed at artists, researchers, writers, and students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) interested in archive-based research and looking to integrate a decolonial praxis in their work. It is also an excellent fit for individuals who are new to archival research, those who intend to work with archives, or those who want to learn more about theories and practices of decolonising archives and about the re-activation in the present of anti-colonial, insurgent bodies of knowledge.



After this session you will:

  • Have been introduced to current debates on decolonial, anti-colonial and antiracist archival research;
  • Have been presented with different techniques of archival redress and repair;
  • Have been challenged on re-thinking the imperial legacies of archival knowledge and archiving technologies;
  • Have learnt about the importance of addressing issues of positionality and ethics in your research;
  • Have been encouraged to think about how to ‘activate’ resilient archives and anti-colonial bodies of knowledge.