Call for Contributions – Publicity/Privacy: ethical archiving in an age of mass surveillance

The Electronic Records Section Blog invites all and sundry to write about their experiences, concerns, paranoid prognostications, and experiments walking the line of ethical archiving in an era of mass surveillance. 

Our next series, Publicity/Privacy, is an opportunity to discuss the complexities of preserving records and making them accessible without exposing their subjects or creators to immediate (or eventual) harm, particularly from a law enforcement apparatus which is overwhelmingly focused on controlling the vulnerable and defending the powerful.

Blog posts may include reflections on the following prompts, among others:

  • How do we balance including voices/records/realities of vulnerable groups in the archives with the reality that doing so may endanger them?
  • How do we manage the push/pull between documenting a faithful record for the future and exposing people in marginalized groups (and those in opposition to power) to material harm in the present?
  • How do we grapple with the reality of inequitable treatment by the justice system, especially when it means the marginalized voices whose exclusion from the archive we want to repair are targeted by police?
  • What strategies can we use to continue documenting in these areas while mitigating the risk (to individuals as well as institutions) of punitive legal action?
  • Beyond social media, what records have you encountered which pose such risks to donors, persons mentioned within the records, and collecting institutions?

Examples of completed or ongoing projects at archives addressing these issues are especially welcome.

If interested, please get in touch with the editorial team via

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