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The Politics Of Archiving #BlackLivesMatter

Image from the research of UMD's Ed Summers

Archives are spaces in which materials of historic interest or cultural significance are stored and ordered. Archives have a unique power to capture and even shape collective memory, from  physical objects to digital material to sorting vast amounts of information. In light of the immense amount of documentation surrounding the unrest following Freddie Gray’s funeral in Baltimore, we want to understand the role of archives in bringing some materials to light, and ask whether that risks marginalizing others.

The Maryland Historical Societyhas put out a call for professional and amateur photographers to send in images documenting the Freddie Gray protests, and the unrest and clean-up that followed.  In College Park, the University of Maryland’s Institute of Technology in the Humanities, or MITH, already had been collecting tweets relating to events in Ferguson last summer and analyzing them in workshops as part of the university-wide #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Our guests are involved in both these efforts. Joe Tropea is Curator of Films & Photographs  and Digital Projects Coordinator at the Maryland Historical Society. He’s with me in the studio.  

Joining us by phone is Neil Fraistat  Professor of English at the University of Maryland and Director of MITH. Fraistat is working on the development of an Twitter archive around the events in Ferguson.

More information on Ed Summers' research and the work of MITH:

Random image visualizationproject of social media archives, a discussion on sifting through images in the #FreddieGray dataset and Summers' blog post on the issues of power at stake in the archive.

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.