BLOGROLL: Weber on Prison Records from US Colonial Rule in the Philippines – Archive Journal

Benjamin D. Weber on the prison records from the first decade of US colonial rule in the Philippines from 1902-1912:

Intake Records Storage, New Bilibid Prison. Photo: Benjamin D. Weber, 2013

“In this essay, I begin by contextualizing the records, and then I turn to discussing different approaches to reading them. In working with prison records of this sort, methodological issues are inseparable from ethical questions about how the past is used in the present and the future. Archivists are familiar with the weighty task of asking “what kind of past the future should have,” as Terry Cook puts it. Yet as “future memory workers,” as Jarrett M. Drake and Jen LaBarbera recently point out, they also have a unique responsibility to confront “who we have been, who we are, and who we would like to be” in ways that promote belonging, social justice, and, indeed, liberation. Drawing on recent scholarship from critical prison studies, I conclude by considering the stakes of interpretation: asking, for instance, what it might mean to approach these records from a future in which prisons are obsolete. Or, to borrow Allegra M. McLeod’s apt phrase, what it could look like to employ a “prison abolition ethic” in archival studies….”

Read it all:

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