“…we, Black people everywhere and anywhere we are, still produce in, into, and through the wake an insistence on existing: we insist Black being into the wake.”

– Christina Sharpe, In the Wake (2016)

In this paper, I introduce Christina Sharpe’s conceptualizations of wake and wake work, as they pertain to archiving the experiences of Blackness to better understand how the archive and archives are vital for those living and working in the wake of slavery. I am particularly interested in the wake work conducted both in literary works (speculative fiction) and at information sites (archives). To that end, I closely examine archives as they are presented in literature so as to explicate how these archival narratives created by Black authors perform wake work. Moreover, I make the connection between literary wake work, that which is performed by Black speculative fiction writers, and information wake work, that which is performed by Black archivists, before delving into an analysis of the physical act of creating archives as the wake work of Black community archivists. This investigation of wake work and archive(s) is meant to articulate Black life through a multidisciplinary lens, one that merges scholarship in Black studies, archives, information, and literature. My interrogation of archiving Blackness centers on the concepts of “wake” and “wake work,” and how they can be used to characterize the act of archiving the histories and the futures of Black people as an intervention towards coloring and diversifying the archival record.

Archiving Blackness: Reimagining and Recreating the Archive(s) as Literary and Information Wake Work