Black Archival Studies

Black Archival Studies – Public Meeting
Date: Thursday, August 19th, 3 pm – 6 pm EST

Within the work Futures of Black Radicalism, Steve Osuna describes Cedric Robinson’s view of preserving the Black record:

Robinson noted that the slave’s vision of liberations is evident in spirituals, or what Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois termed the “sorrow songs,” whose import was commonly overlooked by whites at the time. The spirituals were a cultural formation created by slaves to express their religious faith and provide guidance, instruction, and critiques on how to survive and make sense of their conditions. They were a framework for imagining possibilities beyond the brutality and barbarism of slavery. White supremacy viewed them simply as noise. Robinson concluded: “What is the noise of 2013? That’s what we have to ask today… Record the noise” (emphasis added).

Archives are full of noises and silences. The project of White supremacist political and cultural dominance has sought to silence Black voices and delegitimize Black life and legacy. 

The field of archival studies has expanded and developed rapidly in the last ten years, alongside the emergence of critical and liberatory archival projects and theories. In this urgent historical moment, as a memory worker and part of the African diaspora, I would like to investigate what are the uses in considering the articulation of “Black Archival Studies” as a corrective to the multiple constructed forces that attempt to control and surveil Black life?

I would like to convene a public meeting of potential Black archival studies scholars, Black Genealogists, Black archivists, and Black memory practitioners to discuss the value of such an intervention, what the priorities of such an intervention would be, and what projects could be imagined.


Any queries can be directed to the meeting convenor, Obden Mondésir, at:

This meeting is being supported by the Archival Technologies Lab at Queens College, City University of New York.