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Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program at the College of Charleston
May 16 -18, 2024
Archives and related memory keeping institutions such as museums, libraries, and archaeological repositories have a collective mandate to document and preserve cultural heritage objects such as oral histories, textual records, artifacts, images, and textiles. In recent years, cultural heritage institutions responsible for collecting and preserving evidence of a shared past are confronting, re-examining, and in many cases making efforts to repair harmful, exploitative, or exclusive policies, practices, and norms. These include disrupting the widespread tendency for privileging, preserving, and reproducing a history that is predominantly white and further silencing the voices and histories of marginalized peoples and communities.
The “Archives in the Atlantic” Conference will explore the ways archives and related cultural heritage institutions throughout the Atlantic World are confronting shared legacies of imperialism, slavery, and Indigenous dispossession through decolonizing traditional standards, developing liberatory practices, and expanding networks of belonging and representation.
How can archival and curatorial institutions and the people who use them employ ethics of care when working with or studying communities affected by historical injustice, plunder of material culture, or erasure from the historic record? How can archivists, curators, and memory workers create more inclusive and representative holdings and build trust with members of historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities and groups? How has the landscape of repatriation transformed and how have these processes evolved in the tension between institutions, those who work within them, and stakeholder communities? Within the confines of those institutions, how do we confront and correct the curatorial decisions of past stewards of collections who perpetuated historical violences via their practice?