The humanization of the archival craft is particularly compelling for transgender-related archives and archiving. As attention to transgender phenomena continues to increase, the need for thoughtfully conceived and ethically executed trans archival practices becomes all the more pressing. Yet the very basis of this undertaking relies on a daunting definitional and epistemological challenge: in the context of archives, what counts as transgender? This issue of TSQ will investigate practical and theoretical dimensions of archiving transgender phenomena and will ask what constitutes “trans* archives” or “trans* archival practices.”
Roughly 1.7 million people died in Cambodia from untreated disease, starvation, and execution during the Khmer Rouge reign of less than four years in the late 1970s. The regime’s brutality has come to be symbolized by the multitude of black-and-white mug shots of prisoners taken at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of “enemies of the state” were tortured before being sent to the Killing Fields. In Archiving the Unspeakable, Michelle Caswell traces the social life of these photographic records through the lens of archival studies and elucidates how, paradoxically, they have become agents of silence and witnessing, human rights and injustice as they are deployed at various moments in time and space. From their creation as Khmer Rouge administrative records to their transformation beginning in 1979 into museum displays, archival collections, and databases, the mug shots are key components in an ongoing drama of unimaginable human suffering.
Winner, Waldo Gifford Leland Award, Society of American Archivists
Longlist, ICAS Book Prize, International Convention of Asia Scholars
In recent decades, scholars working in postcolonial history have successfully challenged the primacy of Western historiography and its Eurocentric worldview. With Unsettling History, a group of historians extend that challenge to two central components of work in history: archiving and narrating. Archival resources, they argue, despite their air of impartiality, are the product of established interests and subject to various practices of selection, cataloguing, and preservation. Narrating, too, is more complicated than it might at first seem, especially as the range of genres available to the historians for presenting their findings has expanded in recent years.