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FERGUSON, Kathy. “Theorizing Shiny Things: Archival Labors”
Article published on 20 April 2011

by ps

"The purpose of this paper is to intervene in this confrontation over the dangers and delights of archives by
considering the various paradoxes that face the users of archives, not in order to resolve them but to inhabit them in
ways that nudge our thinking in a more Dionysian direction. My example is the intellectually rich, politically
radical, fiscally endangered Emma Goldman Paper’s Project at the University of California, Berkeley. This small,
cluttered site of accumulation represents a different kind of archive, a deliberately counter-hegemonic collection
centered on a radical critic of the status quo. While respecting the political trouble that archives can cause, and
maintaining the energy generated by archival tensions, I look to the political and intellectual possibilities of the
Goldman archive to recalibrate the affective valence of our reflections, making it possible to lead with the excitement, the invitation, the joy of archives while still attending to the troubles they foster.

Theory & Event vol 11 no 4 (2008)