Organized Panel Session
Archives are more than just collections of documents, or historical facts waiting to be found. There material things, which act and are acted upon by a variety of humans and nonhumans. Decisions are made on how to care for archives, what ways to amass and collect them, how to organize them, where to keep them, and what mediums to present them to the public and researchers in. These material decisions have consequences that are not always obvious or theoretically engaged with by researchers, but which are crucial to the formation of knowledge and scholarship. In this session we look to examine the material lives of the archive and how these qualities impact research, from the curation long-term care of archival materials to the digitization and democratization of the archive through open access resources. We put into dialogue both the producers and caretakers of archives and the users of them. As we move forward into the twenty-first century, new threats and new technologies promise to irrevocably change of the ways in which archives are interacted with. Climate change offers challenges to the conditions and technologies of long-term care, while at the same time government and nongovernment funding sources are shrinking. Digitization offers new unrivaled forms of access while simultaneously divorcing archival documents from their material qualities which can shape their interpretation. It is essential that the material life of the archive is taken seriously and is deliberately engaged with on a variety of theoretical levels.