Can we unlearn imperialism? In her latest tour-de-force Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences. By taking a close look on photographs, documents and objects in archives and museum collections, Azoulay argues that not only museums but also the discipline of history itself must be de-imperialized. “Our approach to the archive cannot be guided by the imperial desire to unearth unknown ‘hidden’ moments,” she writes. “It should rather be driven by the conviction that other political species were and continue to be real options in our present.” Azoulay proposes a methodology and an ethics for engaging with historical and archival materials that refuses to relegate them to a foreclosed past. Instead, she invites us to see in these objects the imminent potential for fostering nonimperial forms of identification and meaning. Plunder, she emphasizes, is “an ongoing process,” and the archive is not only a repository of documents but a regime of operations and procedures that are tightly interwoven with imperialist dogmas.
Realized within the discursive series Wednesday with… the reading circle aims to support the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement. It is organized in cooperation with ARA – Afro Rainbow Austria, and hosted by Faris Cuchi Gezahegn (representative of ARA) and Katja Stecher (studio das weisse haus).