Immaterial Archives: Lost Pasts, Salvaged Futures


ACLS Fellowship Program




Immaterial Archives derives from Caribbean art and literature a philosophy of history that contends with archival loss. The artists, poets, and fiction writers of this study embrace spirits, non-verbal sounds, visions, and dreamscapes as creative responses to archival gaps and absences. They not only contend with the problem of addressing a history of slavery and post-slavery but also deploy ephemeral phenomena for establishing new channels of connection with the past. Caribbean arts of the imagination transform our understanding of archival materials—whether they are written records, sound recordings, or computer files—through an inclusion of intangible and invisible evidence. This move represents less a desire to return to the wholeness of a reconstructed past than the necessity to envisage a transformative future.