The Haus der Kulturen der Welt has released the recording of “Archival Absence”, an event happened on 11 March 2021, with Bassel Al Saadi, Fehras Publishing Practices, Ghassan Halwani, United for Intercultural Action (Balint Josa) and Rona Sela, moderated by Marwa Arsanios.
The conversation revolved around these questions: Which memory practices do societies develop without (state) archives or without access to them? How is testimony preserved and remembered here? Does the public have a right to archives and what role do initiatives by artists, researchers and activists play?
As public institutions, archives can contribute to the development of collective memory and the discourse on cultural and national identities. Such archive locations are often missing in the countries of the southern Mediterranean and the Middle East: European colonial policy did not allow independent historiography in the regions – with far-reaching consequences up to the present day. Archives are created and maintained there today mainly through private initiatives. However, such collections are vulnerable and often subject to loss and destruction in the course of political conflicts.