- Rüstem Ertuğ Altınay, University of Vienna
- Olivera Jokic, City University of New York
This special issue explores the intricate relationship between archives and popular culture: how archives shape our understanding of “popular culture,” and how diverse forms of popular culture shape conceptions and contents of archives. Conventional conceptualizations of the archive as the repository of authoritative historical documents, assembled and maintained by institutions of the state, have increasingly been challenged. Formation of repositories, in public and private, of materials created by individuals who lack epistemic authority has been of interest not only to historians looking for traces of their lives. Especially through diverse forms of popular culture—from books, photography, video, and music to statues and garments—archives have taken on new lives to become part of public culture. In such cultural products, that which ostensibly belongs to history shapes how we understand the past, can experience the present, and imagine the future.
While both mainstream and unorthodox archives gain new lives in and through popular culture, they also challenge our contemporary conceptions of “popular culture” by revealing how the definitions of popular culture have changed, and how new genres of documentation have emerged and disappeared over time. With the profound transformation of the recording media and conceptions of literacy, these processes have reached an unprecedented speed. As more people have acquired access to recording, distribution, and preservation of written and visual texts with broad availability of high-speed Internet connections, the time difference between the moment of recording and the moment of historiography has shrunk beyond measure. The archive is still about the past, but the past may appear closer than ever to the present.
The questions we would like to explore include, but are not limited to:
- What is the role of the archive in defining what is popular?
- Can archives be classified as products of popular culture? When and how do some archives become popular?
- What would an archive of popularity look like?
- How do archives reproduce or challenge our conceptions of the popular?
- How does popular culture produce unorthodox archives?
- How do artifacts of popular culture use archives to create continuity or difference between the past and the present?
- How do archives of the popular shape the desires and imaginations of the future?
- How do minoritarian producers of popular culture use or re-define archives of oppression and dominance? What prospects and limitations are involved in such endeavors?
- What are the affective politics of archival praxis, and how do they unravel in the context of popular culture?
- What has been the effect of the digital and mobile technologies on the relationship between the archive and popular culture?
If you are interested in contributing to this special issue, please send a 300-word abstract to the editors, Rüstem Ertuğ Altınay (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Olivera Jokic (email@example.com), by November 30, 2018. Authors will be notified in early December 2018 whether they should submit a full version of their article for peer review. Full-length articles of 5,000–7,500 words will be due by December 1, 2019. Please note that final decisions about publication will depend on the peer-review process.