This seminar explores approaches to archival research in the field of African American studies. Archives, as Michel-Rolph Trouillot reminds us, are not passive repositories of historical materials. Rather, the archive as an institution authorizes particular narratives about the past, while simultaneously rendering other narratives as illegitimate or even “unthinkable”. Working at the intersection of African American studies and critical archival studies, we will interrogate the archive as a site of racialized knowledge production and consider how archival sources inform historical and contemporary understandings of Black life. We will wrestle with the limitations of the archive—the silences, excesses, and (mis)representations—while also engaging with recent scholarship that addresses the methodological, theoretical, and ethical challenges of archival research in innovative ways. In doing so, we will reckon with what Saidiya Hartman characterizes as the “task of writing the impossible,” the effort to reconstruct the stories of Black people from fragmentary traces in the official record. Invited presenters for this yearlong seminar include scholars and archivists working in the fields of literary and cultural studies, anthropology, history, political science, African American studies, and digital humanities.
Prof. Lorgia García Peña is the author of The Borders of Dominicanidad: Race, Nations and Archives of Contradictions (Duke University Press, 2016) a study of the impact of stories — historical and fictional — on the national and racial identity of a people. Offering the Dominican experience as case study, this book shows how the stories of a nation create marginality through acts of exclusion. These exclusionary acts are linked to the tensions between colonial desire and the aspiration for political independence. The book also shows how these official stories of exclusion, though influential in shaping a country’s identity, are always contested, negotiated, and even redefined through acts of resistance linked to the tensions between history — what is perceived as evidence of fact — and fiction — what is presumed to be invention: cultural productions, oral histories, and rumors. The Borders of Dominicanidad is the winner of Winner of the 2017 National Women’s Studies Association Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize, the 2016 LASA Latino/a Studies Book Award and the 2016 Isis Duarte Book Prize in Haiti and Dominican Studies.
** Registration Is Required **
The seminars are only available to the Princeton University students, faculty, and staff. To register, please contact Shelby Sinclair at email@example.com.