Archives/Institutions of Dissensus*
Lara Khaldi, Annie Jael-Kwan, Ann Laura Stoler
Harvest by Daniel Aguilar and Diana Cantarey
Hosted by Carine Zaayman
As Lara Khaldi remarked during the conversation, the ‘Archives/Institutions of Dissensus’ session took shape as a storytelling-jamming session that reflected on what happens when archives defy the function of being inert spaces of preservation and consignation. Khaldi, together with Ann Laura Stoler and Annie Jael-Kwan, related various stories about archives that do not conform to the dynamics we conventionally associate with official and/or state-sponsored archives. Khaldi recounted that the Palestinian Museum was widely reported to have opened with empty vitrines when in fact, there were objects on display. Why did the absences eclipse the presence in people’s memories in this instance? Stoler related the story of a VOC official who engaged in extensive correspondence with the Company, robustly critiquing their very presence in Indonesia. His letters now form part of the VOC archive. Responding to Khaldi and Stoler, Jael-Kwan reminded us of how shifting racial categorisations across the globe change the way in which people’s histories are recorded, resulting in some pasts slipping out of view.