In Urgent Archives, Michele Caswell provides a tough love blueprint that allows archivists, in whatever place they are situated, to take individual and collective liberatory action by extricating archival theory and practice from the constraints of the oppressive systems in which it is rooted and for which it has been a tool. While Urgent Archives is aimed at liberatory memory work in community archives settings it also has a lot to say to archivists in other, often institutional settings. Caswell lays out three legs of liberatory memory work -- temporal, affective, and material. She then proceeds to outline the nature of liberatory memory work and what it means for communities and archives. Even though Urgent Archives is deeply intellectual in its analysis, its recommendations center around urgent, relational work. “Our task—activating archives for human liberation—is not easy. It is a struggle, one that demands action.” Caswell’s love for community and for archivists is clear. She wants communities to be liberated and autonomous. She also wants archivists to use their knowledge and skills to step into anti-oppressive roles. She is asking archivists to stop preserving the past for some “better” future, but to imagine a better future and to use archives to build it now.
"Book Review: Urgent Archives,"
Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies: Vol. 9, Article 6.
Available at: https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/jcas/vol9/iss1/6