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Dangerous papers: building an archive of anti-prison resistance

Speer, Jessie and Jones, Stephen Cassidy (2021) Dangerous papers: building an archive of anti-prison resistance. Professional Geographer. ISSN 0033-0124

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00330124.2021.1936578


Archives are not straightforward repositories of history. Instead, they authorize which stories are remembered. In this article we apply the insights of cultural geographers and other influential scholars of archives to analyze the political dimensions of archiving activist histories. A small group of antiprison activists produced a personal archive during the 1990s and 2000s documenting brutality behind bars and efforts to dismantle solitary confinement in California prisons. After being deemed too dangerous to be opened to the public by university archivists, and without a permanent home, the papers were at risk of being lost to history. By presenting our work building this archive, we analyze the limitations of institutional libraries and the vital role played by individuals and independent institutions willing to preserve dangerous papers, and we show how preserving histories of state violence and opposition can become a deeply personal and risky endeavor.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 American Association of Geographers
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2021 10:15
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2022 09:18

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