NEA taking the past into the future

Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies Reading Group with Jamillah R. Gabriel - Archiving Blackness

  • 2023-06-08
  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • Zoom
  • 13

Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies Reading Group

Jamillah R. Gabriel, Critical Pedagogy Research Librarian at Monroe C. Gutman Library Harvard Graduate School of Education
Free Event | Thursday, June 8, 2023, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Join New England Archivists to explore critical archival practice while discussing Jamillah R. Gabriel’s article “Archiving Blackness: Reimagining and Recreating the Archive(s) as Literary and Information Wake Work” in The Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies.

Abstract: “…we, Black people everywhere and anywhere we are, still produce in, into, and through the wake an insistence on existing: we insist Black being into the wake.” – Christina Sharpe, In the Wake (2016). In this paper, I introduce Christina Sharpe’s conceptualizations of wake and wake work, as they pertain to archiving the experiences of Blackness to better understand how the archive and archives are vital for those living and working in the wake of slavery. I am particularly interested in the wake work conducted both in literary works (speculative fiction) and at information sites (archives). To that end, I closely examine archives as they are presented in literature so as to explicate how these archival narratives created by Black authors perform wake work. Moreover, I make the connection between literary wake work, that which is performed by Black speculative fiction writers, and information wake work, that which is performed by Black archivists, before delving into an analysis of the physical act of creating archives as the wake work of Black community archivists. This investigation of wake work and archive(s) is meant to articulate Black life through a multidisciplinary lens, one that merges scholarship in Black studies, archives, information, and literature. My interrogation of archiving Blackness centers on the concepts of “wake” and “wake work,” and how they can be used to characterize the act of archiving the histories and the futures of Black people as an intervention towards coloring and diversifying the archival record.

Attendees are invited to join in an open discussion of this topic, where they can hear more from Gabriel, pose questions to the group, and even collaborate on how this discussion reflects or informs their own work.

The article can be downloaded for free at this link:

This event will not be recorded so please plan to attend live.

This event will be moderated by Martha Ball (she/her) of the NEA Education Committee.  For questions about the event please contact

Questions about registration? Please contact NEA's Registrar, Becky White at

New England Archivists is committed to creating an accessible and inclusive environment for all of our events. For questions or concerns about accessibility, interpretive services, religious observance, or any other accommodations that would make the meeting more accessible for you, please contact NEA’s Inclusion and Diversity Committee at

All participants including presenters, instructors, vendors, or others involved in the event are required to abide by the NEA Code of Conduct, which can be found here:

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