November 5, 2015

CFP: Radical Teaching and Archives

CFP: Radical Teaching and Archives

To create, maintain, and control an archive is to establish facts and exercise power. Archives consolidate objects as sources of knowledge, and in so doing, they help construct boundaries around what counts as history and whose stories are likely to be told. Often, archives are the province of the powerful, who have the resources to preserve and regulate access to materials in ways that narrate the world from the perspective of history’s winners. Radicals ignore such depositories at their risk, however, since they must understand power in order to confront it. Official documents often enable critical readers to understand the behavior of their authors in ways that those authors may not have intended. In recent memory, for example, the release of the Pentagon Papers, declassified NSA documents, and wikileaks have all provided opportunities to reconfigure knowledge around highly-charged government actions and historic events. At the same time, professional archivists, scholars, and activists are creating new community-based and bottom-up archives, such as Brooklyn-based Interference Archive (http://interferencearchive.org/), a collectively-run repository of social movement materials; The Lesbian Herstory Archives (http://www.lesbianherstoryarchives.org); and the CUNY Digital History Archive (http://cunydha.org), a participatory project to collect and preserve the histories of the City University of New York. These archives, among many others, are part of a larger movement to build resources for alternative versions and visions of history and society. Accessibility has become a growing problem, however, as the institutions that house these records all too often reduce and/or deskill their professional staffs. Without trained archivists, who know the contents of their collections, students, teachers, and other researchers may find it difficult, if not impossible, to find the materials they seek. Funding is, of course, the issue here, as the neoliberalism suffusing 21st century society is unlikely to put a high priority on recovering the radical past. Radical Teacher invites essays that address radical teaching with, in, and against archives. Some of the questions one might consider include:

– How are progressive educators incorporating archival research, trips, and materials into their pedagogy? What is radical about this work?
– What kinds of efforts have archivists, educators, librarians, and activists undertaken to reconstruct archives in ways that reflect the power and experiences of everyday people (gays/lesbians, working class people, disabled people)? And/or in ways that pose challenges to established forms of information, data-gathering, and political power?
– In what ways can archives be used to promote radical inquiry by students—individually or as group projects?
– Does the radical use of archives require radical content (e.g., the archives of activist collectives, social movements, or avant-garde artists)?
– How might one use community-based archives in the classroom? What questions, anxieties and/or possibilities arise regarding preservation of and access to these records?
– How have progressive educators used archives at their own institutions in their teaching?
– What problems of access have radical teachers and/or their students encountered in using certain archives?
– How has digitization helped or hampered the use of archives? How has it changed the way radical teachers and their students use such collections?

The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2016. Queries, abstracts and proposals are welcome in advance and should be directed to Linda Dittmar (lindittmar@gmail.com) and Joseph Entin (jentin@brooklyn.cuny.edu). Prospective authors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with Radical Teacher by reading the journal at http://radicalteacher.library.pitt.edu/