The nature of ‘document work’, and its implications for radical community archives and their holdings

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    Around fifty years ago, much of the world experienced a new cycle of mass social unrest. In their wake, the movements of that time have left a mass of records and other documents such as leaflets, journals, newspapers, posters and bulletins. Today, many of these materials are curated by community-based archives that continue to identify in some manner both with those movements and their successors. But what might these materials be able to tell us about the ‘document work’ (to use Ciaran Trace’s useful concept) that originally led to their creation and use – and, in a broader sense, the experiences of the movement participants who utilised them as integral components of their political engagement? This paper will explore the meaning of document work within the practices of members of Potere Operaio [Potop], one of the most influential of the revolutionary groups formed in Italy during the late 1960s. The paper concludes with brief reflections as to the implications of this for the present day work of radical community archives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)43-60
    Number of pages18
    JournalThe Journal of Community Informatics
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2019


    • Document work
    • Social movements

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