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Archiving the 8th Project Launches Online Seminar Series

The School of History of Art and Cultural Policy at University College Dublin has announced a four-part seminar series taking place in May/June 2021 as part of its 2020-21 Wellcome Trust-funded project, Archiving the 8th.

Launching online on Tuesday May 25th – the third anniversary of the repeal of the 8th Amendment – at 2.00pm, and running for three weeks thereafter, this online seminar series will focus on questions of how the objects, experiences, and perspectives of political activism are preserved and understood. How are archiving and collecting practices responding to, reflecting, and shaping the legacy of women’s reproductive rights? How can cultural professionals and activists work together to ensure robust public archives of social activism, which are critical for future histories and documenting social change?

Each week, local, national, and international experts will address the project’s three core intersecting themes of archiving, activism, and academic activity – probing cutting-edge digital preservation techniques, methodologies undertaken to collect and interpret archival materials, as well as challenges experienced by marginalised communities in having their voices and experiences recorded and acknowledged.

Project Co-ordinator Dr Maeve O’Brien commented:

The field of data collection is constantly evolving, with digital activism in particular providing new challenges for archivists, and new techniques such as rapid-response collecting being enacted to capture important moments in social and cultural change. These seminars bring together some of the leading thinkers in the archiving world to communicate, collaborate and offer a reconceptualization of the process and legacy of activist collecting. From stickers on bathroom doors to flyers and oral histories, this four-part seminar series will explore challenges and share working practices to aid the archiving of social and cultural activism. The series explores these issues specifically with respect to the 2018 8th   Amendment campaigns in Ireland, and more broadly – suggesting, for example, how we should document spontaneous protests as we’ve seen recently in the UK with the recent Sarah Everard memorials, and globally in response to Black Lives Matter protests, where digital data capture and preservation of diverse voices and cultural expressions has become of paramount importance.

The opening event of Archiving the 8th  on Tuesday 25th May hosts a conversation between Professor Jane Kamensky (#metoo Digital Collection, Schlesinger Library, Harvard University) and Dr Niamh Moore (University of Edinburgh), who will discuss their experience with archiving social movements and working with communities, feminist participatory approaches, and histories of protest. This event will be chaired by DRI Director Dr Natalie Harrower.

The panel on Tuesday 1st   June includes Mairead Enright (Birmingham), Dr Deirdre Duffy (MMU), and Dr Kate Antosik-Parsons (TCD) who will explore the state of contemporary academic research  as regards the 8th  and women’s health, with a focus on methodologies currently being employed by academics across a range of disciplines to grapple with these issues.

Tuesday 8th  June sees a panel with Dr Barry Houlihan (NUIG), Orla Egan (Cork LGBT Archive), and Paul Dudman (UEL) explore the problems and challenges that present themselves when archiving different perspectives of divisive debates, grassroots organising, and minority communities. DRI Policy Manager Dr Aileen O'Carroll will be chairing this event.

And finally, Tuesday 15th  June offers a reflective discussion on barriers and difficulties in collecting visual, textual and oral materials relating to activism, with speakers Karl Hayden (Yes Equality), Rachel Brady (Linen Hall Library), and Dr Hannah Ishmael (University College London), broadening the scope of discussion to marriage equality, women’s lives in Northern Ireland, and Black-led archives in the UK.

All are welcome to attend these free events, which will be recorded and hosted on the Archiving the 8th   website, to be launched in late summer 2021.

To sign up for the seminars please visit: http://archivingthe8th.eventbrite.ie

For any further queries or comments, please contact: Dr Maeve O’Brien (maeve.obrien@ucd.ie)