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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Archival Activism: Independent and Community-led Archives, Radical Public History and the Heritage Professions


Drawing on recent research (mainly focused on the UK) this article explores developments in independent, non-professionalized archival and heritage activity and reflects on two dimensions of archival activism. First, this article examines those projects and endeavors which are actively engaged in radical or counter-hegemonic public history-making activities. These non-professional archival initiatives are best understood not as a form of leisure activity or antiquarianism but as social movement archival activism, often allied to a progressive, democratizing, and anti-discrimination political agenda. Second, this article also addresses the attitude of professional archivists and other heritage workers to these social movements. Whilst acknowledging the challenges involved, it suggests that if heritage workers are concerned with fostering more democratized and diverse historical collections then the archive and heritage professionals need to be prepared to actively seek out collaborations and form equitable partnerships with these social movements.

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