"Conditions of possibility" : towards an archival praxis informed by Black feminist anarchism and a critical trans politics

Date

2020-09-08

Authors

Emswiler, Aems DiNunzio

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Abstract

Grassroots and radical archives have increasingly been presented as more socially just alternatives to dominant institutions. This increased recognition is weighted with a set of risks that minoritized memory-workers must navigate. Under the auspices of the gendered, racial-capitalist settler state, dominant institutions will ultimately work to diffuse the potentials of radical memory work and organizing that threatens their hegemony while continuing to profit from this work. In this thesis, I ask, what are we to do—as trans, queers, crips, criminals, whores, dykes, fags and anarchists—who hope to do liberatory memory work while existing in spaces that at best are extracting from us, and at worst, killing us? Can memory work existing under the auspices of the white supremacist settler-state, within these institutions, be truly revolutionary? How can we document our social movement histories, working class resistance, and lawless subversion without replicating the administrative violence, surveillance, and carceral logics of the nation-state? To address these questions, I draw upon my experiential knowledge organizing with the books to prisons collective, Inside Books Project (IBP) over a span of nine years. As a queer-crip, non-binary anarchist and prison abolitionist, my political praxes formed the basis of an archival methodology that enabled me to navigate some of these questions in my capacity as the project archivist for IBP. I argue that frameworks of Black feminist anarchism and critical trans politics can inform an archival praxis that emerges in the interstices of impossible being and becoming embodied by the enslaved, incarcerated, detained, maimed, undocumented, disabled, and disposable. Drawing on the work of Black archivists and anarchists, I will discuss how I have applied these praxes in my work documenting the narratives of incarcerated people in Texas. In doing this, I hope to promote a more sustained engagement with Black feminist anarchism and a critical trans politics in the field of memory work and archives. I also hope to encourage anarchists and others organizing towards collective liberation to more actively engage in memory work as a praxis of disruption, subversion, and radical futurity

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