Radical appraisal in support of archival autonomy for animal rights activism

Katherine Jarvie, Joanne Evans, Sue McKemmish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Working outside traditional bureaucratic structures, animal activists have a long history of creating, managing and using records in radical ways to bring the suffering of animals to society’s attention. Today’s online platforms enable animal activism on a networked scale, with unprecedented reach and immediacy of impact, but also with risks and challenges. This article presents findings from a critical case study of the radical recordkeeping of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), a US-based animal liberation group. The case study explores the performative role recordkeeping plays in the group’s animal activism and advocacy, and the challenge of ensuring the longevity of an archival record of its activities and their impact. It is framed by Records Continuum Theory and illustrates the benefits of applying a Records Continuum lens to researching radical recordkeeping contexts. The paper reports on the research findings of the case study, including the vital role recordkeeping plays as a form of “strategic witnessing” for the activities of DxE, as well as in developing the DxE community and communicating its mission to the public. It discusses the challenges faced by DxE in preserving their archives into the future through integrating archiving into their current radical recordkeeping processes, Continuum-style, and addressing the risks associated with using online collaborative platforms for recordkeeping and archiving. Overcoming these challenges will ensure that current recordkeeping plays its part in DxE’s animal activism, and that in the future records of continuing value take their place among the multiple narratives of society in the archival multiverse.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalArchival Science
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Animal activism
  • Archives
  • Critical analysis
  • Critical case study
  • Radical recordkeeping
  • Records Continuum theory

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