women's history

Archives Matter: recording Black British feminist histories

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a couple of sessions of the Archives Matter Conference organised by the Centre for Feminist Research at Goldsmiths. I'm posting my very brief notes here for now, and when the audio of the presentations becomes available I'll link it in.

White innocence and the Dutch academy

Anthropologist Gloria Wekker delivered the keynote on 'white innocence' with specific reference to the Dutch academy, but with lessons for anyone involved in creating or sharing historical narratives. I've collected some of the livetweets in a Storify below.


Roots & routes: Tracing the tread of Black British feminist genealogies 

The second session introduced some fascinating projects, including Gemma Romain (UCL) on her research into the archival work of Ruth Anna Fisher in the 1920s.  Ruth Anna Fisher signature

Nydia Swaby (SOAS) spoke on diasporic women's activism, drawing on sources including the newsletter of the Organisation of Women of Asian & African Descent (OWAAD) and the Oral Histories of the Black Women's Movement project.

Here's a great video of Swaby speaking about black women's political organising at the Black Cultural Archives:

Freelance archivist, community worker and artist Ego Ahaiwe Sowinkski spoke about the precarity of Black feminist spaces, memorials, and archives with reference to the Lambeth Women's Project and the Remembering Olive Collective, as well as the current situation facing the Feminist Library.

Olive Morris speaking through a megaphone

Although she could not attend in person, visual sociologist Dominque Z. Barron's exploration of Black British women's free spaces in London was shared by Ego: 'By any space necessary'.

Map graphic

Finally Blue Badge Guide and researcher Kelly Foster called on everyone to "Write her article" on Wikipedia, recommending tools such as Omeka and TinyCat to create our own archives.

Foster ended with a quote from artist and archivist Rita Keegan: "If you don't document yourself, no one else is going to do so. A photocopied sheet is better than nothing."

Slide reading "If you don't document yourself, no one else is going to do so. A photocopied sheet is better than nothing." - Rita Keegan