Archiving is a priority and it happens in real-time in DIY Cultural Diplomacy. The purpose of this is not only to display traces of thoughts and motives behind certain decisions. Archiving as such – collecting and curating texts, videos, images and sounds – allows continuity between different narratives and occasions across space and time. Why is this important? – you might ask. Well, there is an appreciation for continuity in Hip Hop, for example via the art of sampling and knowledge of self. For me personally, it is important because an uninformed (probably white) gaze on this project will try to render it as something exceptional (good or bad). This archive is a work-in-progress in order to show the continuity between what this project aspires to do and what others have done before me. One can also mirror this thinking in the scholarship of philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984).

Foucault put much effort into making the point that there is reciprocity between power and knowledge. It is not a philosophical point as much as it is an empirical observation by way of historical content. He spent a lot of time in archives and made the observation that historical records are not just byproducts of the past. History is actively made by a user: writing, recording, photographing, curating and conservation etc. By studying historical records Foucault investigated how ways of thinking and ways of doing things emerged.

The point is that power is crafted through symmetry between ideas and activities across time and space. What is power then? – you might ask. Well, Foucault gave up on that question. So I’m not going to bother. Instead, the important thing is how it works: The archive enables the exercise of power. From here, one can consider the archive to be a metaphor; a concert hall perhaps, or a website.

Arjun Appadurai explains this point in the essay Archive and Aspiration (2003), accessible here. The following quote illustrate his reasoning, which DIY Cultural Diplomacy subscribes to:

Thus, we should begin to see all documentation as intervention, and all archiving as part of some sort of collective project. Rather than being the tomb of the trace, the archive is more frequently the product of the anticipation of collective memory. Thus the archive is itself an aspiration rather than a recollection.

Appadurai, 2003, p. 16

DIY Cultural Diplomacy’s multimedia archive is about building capacity to construct symmetries between ways of thinking and doing things, not only novel but willingly anchored to the past as well. If you want to contribute to this growing archive of DIY Cultural Diplomacy, don’t hesitate to get in touch!