F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

“Archival Suppression”

“Archival Suppression”

Week 7: Black London 

Growing up in Selma, Alabama, in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement meant that every ride home involved driving across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Built-in 1940, it is named after Edmund Winston Pettus, a former Confederate brigadier general, U.S. senator, and the Alabama Ku Klux Klan leader. It is also the famous bridge in which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led thousands of civil rights activists across headed to Montgomery advocating for equal rights and particularly the right to vote. That said, Voting, Voting Rights, and “Voters’ suppression” stays at the forefront of articulating the Black people’s fight and right to vote. 


I begin with this personal and political herstory because this week’s reading, particularly Schwartz and Cook’s article, “Archives, Records, and Power: The Making of Modern Memory,” caused me to think about what I call here “archival suppression.” While we have talked as a class about archival silencing and erasure, I am concerned this week. I want to discuss how “traditional” archivists recognize the presence of people of color and women yet actively suppress their voices, stories, and presence. 


In keeping with Schwartz and Cook, archives are social constructs (3). And the social construction which involves suppression is violent! So, I am interested in the possibility of understanding the role suppression plays in the social construct of the archive.  

Also, check out: 

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Beacon Press, 2015.

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