María Elena Torre and Brett Stoudt
The living archive is a participatory digital research space. It is a virtual repository for community-based research, local social movements, organizing, collective history, and contemporary socio-cultural production of particular geographic communities that are then virtually linked crossing state and national boundaries. The content, for example, housing data; studies on policing, school closings, shifting public space; oral histories with elders, social activists, and business owners; photos, videos, and music; will be produced and used by the public – faculty and graduate students from The Graduate Center, community members, organizers, artists, journalists, historians, and educators alike. A “living” archive, it will be in constant evolution as new research, photos, video, oral histories, music is added. The archive will be local – rooted in actual physical communities – and reach across sites, as pages will be indexed and linked by topic, media, region, and historical period.
The intent of the Living Archive Project is to provide a living memory of people, place, and policy over time. We imagine it will be used in the following ways:
- To support Graduate Center research, archiving all research, across discipline, done in a particular geographic area, so that new research can easily build on past research.
- To support communities’ ability to easily connect to historical knowledge about where they live, and chart out intentional futures for community life, e.g., What were local schools like? What happened when the closed? What kinds of business, services, and community-based organizations have been present? How have the demographics changed? What is the housing history? What is the community health profile?
- To support local social movements and organizing through contemporary struggles to the social action of historical neighbors, re-membering forgotten alternatives, and helping to imaging future possibilities.
- To support public research by school children, journalists, artists, local business associations, interested in the present and past life of particular communities.