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Short Course

Decolonising the Archive Webinar

Chelsea College of Arts

This two-hour webinar from the Decolonising Arts Intitute focuses on the theories and practices of decolonising archives.

Course description

This webinar led by Dr Elisa Adami, Decolonising Arts Institute residency programme alumna and convenor, will explore what a critical praxis of decolonisation of the archive can look like, by focusing on a few examples from the fields of the arts, poetry and critical theory. We will consider a number of practical questions, such as:

  • How can we address issues of positionality in ways that are transparent, (self-)reflective and ethically responsible?
  • How to forge intersectional solidarities that centre and empower historically or presently colonised communities, rather than silencing them in the pursuit of extracting commodifiable knowledge.
  • How to re-connect stories that were/are forcibly fragmented in processes of colonisation and to re-compose resilient and insurgent bodies of knowledge that were/are segregated, displaced, and suppressed in their archival afterlives.
  • How to activate an archive without reiterating or reproducing the violence contained in its documents and/or enacted in the imperial infrastructure of archival technologies.

We will attend to various forms of redress and repair, including Saidiya Hartman’s notion of ‘critical fabulation’; subversive poetical appropriations of legal texts and governmental acts by writers such as M. Nourbuse Philip, Natalie Harkin, Layli Long Soldier; gestures of ‘refusal within research’ (Tuck & Yang); and the re-composition of dispersed and exiled fragments of resilient archives (Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa).

Who should attend this session?

This webinar is aimed at artists, researchers, writers and students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) interested in archive-based research and looking to integrate a decolonial praxis in their work. It is also an excellent fit for individuals who are new to archival research, those who intend to work with archives, or those who want to learn more about theories and practices of decolonising archives and about the re-activation in the present of anti-colonial, insurgent bodies of knowledge.

After this session you will:

  • Have been introduced to current debates on decolonial, anti-colonial and antiracist archival research;
  • Have been presented with different techniques of archival redress and repair;
  • Have been challenged on re-thinking the imperial legacies of archival knowledge and archiving technologies;
  • Have learnt about the importance of addressing issues of positionality and ethics in your research;
  • Have been encouraged to think about how to ‘activate’ resilient archives and anti-colonial bodies of knowledge.

Each webinar will feature:

  • Expert knowledge from industry professionals
  • Opportunities to meet other like-minded creatives
  • A chance to join the conversation with a live Q&A
  • Our webinar sessions are aimed for anyone looking to upskill and develop their professional practices. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion

We have other webinar sessions coming up soon. See our full webinars list.

Available dates

Enquire about this course and we will contact you when new dates are published.


Topics to be covered:

  • Practices and theories of decolonising archives (limits and possibilities);
  • Positionality and ethical research;
  • Forms of archival redress and repair;
  • Resilient bodies of knowledge and intersectional solidarities;
  • Modes of activation of archives that do not reproduce colonial/imperial violence.


To take part in this webinar session you will need:

  • An up-to-date web browser (we recommend Chrome)
  • Microphone and headphones (a headset with a microphone function is recommended. The built-in microphone in your device would also be fine)
  • Webcam
  • Strong Internet connection - we recommend a minimum of 2 Mbps download, and 1 Mbps upload, faster if possible. You can test your network speed here -

We recommend you have:

  • A notebook
  • A pen
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