Archive Violence

Archives are a way for humans to fight the infinite threat of of forgetfulness. Without this threat, the “destructive force”, the aging of the human body and mind, there would be no archive fever.

Unfortunately, there are ways to pervert the original use of archives that humans have such a knack for doing with any new invention or idea. This perversion can lead to archival violence and is my main take away from Archive Fever. Archives have a dark side to them that Derrida states as, “It has the force of law”. An archive has the extreme power of relaying information which, given the fact that the information was included in the archive, contributors or archons expect that the archive should be respected by people looking into the archive. The contributors of the archive can create bias views of the subject that is chosen to be included in the archive, which you could call violence against true history. Archive violence also comes from the suggestions of what the archive will lead behind which, without proper context, can be greatly misunderstood and negatively affect the future. So this archival violence not only creates unfair views that distorts the past, these distorted views can then in turn affect the future.

The Keasler situation is a perfect example of how a distorted view from an archive could have an impact on the future. In the Keasler situation, showing the picture to the police would have caused even more problems for the community. Members of the community were very aware of this fact and how the authorities could ruin the lives of other families. It is this reason why Keasler, in the end, decided not to tell the authorities about the father who was beating his daughters.

In regards to technological advancements, Derrida claims that email, “is on the way to transforming the entire public and private space of humanity, and first of all the limit between the private, secret (private or public), and the public or the phenomenal”. With what groups like Wikileaks can do, it should come as no surprise that even private emails can be made available to the public if someone really wants them to be. On top of that, these technological advancements not only are able to reach a global audience in seconds, they have the potential to store essentially limitless information. While this can be good, it can also lead to something like alternative facts where someone attempting to look up information about a subject sees conflicting details that makes it hard to distinguish the lies from the truth.

 

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