Accueil SÉMINAIRES Séminaire 2006 "New Media Preservation: Archives and Activists" Liz Springate

"New Media Preservation: Archives and Activists" Liz Springate

This paper explores how questions of media preservation change when taken beyond institutional settings and are addressed by activist media producers. As a point of departure, I consider the Men As Partners (MAP)’s digital story collection-rich in personal ‘affective’ materials, objects and images-as an activist ‘archive’ set in a living context of HIV/AIDS and anti-violence activism in South Africa. I argue that these digital stories constitute forms of evidence, that any artifact can become part of an ‘archive’ and participate in a history. New questions concerning preservation are possible from this standpoint: How can ‘affective’ evidence address structural injustices or intervene in social problems. How do issues of media preservation become issues of justice? ...


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... I consider MAP’s dual focus on HIV/AIDS and sexualized violence as critical because it maintains the interconnectedness of sexual health and sexualized violence. MAP’s digital stories raise important concerns for media preservation when read against the Coca Cola Company’s HIV/AIDS community initiatives in Africa. In this scenario, how is HIV/AIDS activism represented? How will future researchers read it? Beyond the MAP case, I outline specific challenges facing activist organizations, including resources, organizational structure, awareness, and visibility, and I forward possible preservation strategies, including systems of notation, education, and training methods. With regards to preserving digital stories in activist settings, I propose that the narrative form itself may be what is most ‘preservable.’


Liz Springate is a PhD candidate in Communications Studies at McGill University. She earned her MA in Communication & Culture through the York/Ryerson Joint Program after a hasty and remorseless exit from the world of advertising. Liz has taught Graphic Design at technical colleges in Toronto and currently teaches Creative Writing at York University. Her on-going research interests include activist media practices and narrative analysis from which she draws specific emphasis on digital storytelling and accounts of resistance to sexualized violence. She continues to teach women’s self-defense on a volunteer basis.