This paper discusses theories and artistic practices that challenge classical notions of the archive. Since the early 1980s, postcolonial scholars alerted us to the fact that gaps and omissions form the problematic basis of any archive. Thus, counter-perspectives to hegemonic discourse, as well as new archives, have been established. Although alternative narratives came to the fore, the resulting multiplication of the archive followed more or less the same paths as before: Policies of restricted access led to a hierarchy of visibility. Currently, artists, filmmakers, and activists demand a far more radical archival policy. These models, which I group under the term “counter-archives”, propose accessibility (a) as part of the Global North’s commitment to decolonizing its institutions and (b) as part of a “Citizen Science” agenda that unbalances hierarchies between experts and laypeople.
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