In every aspect of our lives, we must curate our own collections. If two glasses break and you only had 4 to begin with, you have to decide if you are going to keep those to glasses and just get two new ones or if you’ll donate those two and just get a brand new set of four. This, effectively, means that if you choose the second option then there may be no proof that the first set of glasses were ever in your possession. The same is true of information, what we choose to archive and choose not to archive can irreversible change the way materials are viewed. Our class reading on post-custodial archiving mentions that the in the process of archiving materials that often not only are these materials taken from their communities but during this process materials may be curated in such a way as to silence or erase certain aspects of a people or history. Which has led me to thinking about the current conversation regarding confederate statues.
The conversation around there monuments are very tense and tend towards people being very much on one side or the other. So, with that in mind I am going to approach this from a curating a collection stand point as we consider it. According to one article, a vast number of these statues were only erected 50-70 years after the Civil War and the article claims many of these statues were erected to “glorify what became known as the “Lost Cause”” ( Gilbert, 38). From the there this article mentions that what should happen to this monuments is something that each community will have to decide for itself and while doing so these communities should consider if these monuments were made as a memorial to the war or if they were made as more of a political statement during the Civil Rights movement (Gilbert, 39). And, this is not to say that things like happen only with older monuments.
This situation also brings to mind, for me, the recent clash when a memorial was raised in California regarding the “comfort women” of World War II. This statue depicts three young girls holding hands on a pedestal and a well-known activist looking up at them and it meant to commemorate the women that were detained and raped during World War II (Hauser, 1). This statue now stands in San Francisco, where it is said it will remain, but it was met with harsh criticism from Japan’s Hirofumi Yoshimura, who even went so far as to cut the sister-city ties Osaka shared with San Francisco (Hauser, 1). Yoshimura claims that it is an unfair representation as many of the women known as comfort women volunteered for that position, while the advocates of the statue maintain that the women were not there voluntarily and the statue is to remind us of the victims (Hauser, 1). Now, I do not know enough about this situation to make any great statements about who is right but, what I can say is if information had been curated differently, better, in more detail, or just in some other way perhaps these vastly different viewpoints of a point in history would not be quite so different.
The point I am trying to make in all this is as we begin curating collections, choosing what will stay and what will go, we need to think as wide and as worldly as possible. Sadly, even in this digital age there is no way we can comprehensively store everything, especially in an accessible way. But, as the aged monuments and the newer memorial shows the importance of having an as comprehensive history as possible is critical to understanding both the past and out modern world.
Alpert-Abrems, Hanna. “Post-custodial Archiving for Our Collective Good.”25 October 2018. https://www.clir.org/2018/10/post-custodial-archiving/
Hauser, Christine. “It is Not Coming Down: San Francisco Defends “Comfort Women” Statue as Japan Protest.” New York Times. 4 October 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/04/us/osaka-sf-comfort-women-statue.html
Kozlowski, James C. “Standing to Challenge Removal of Confederate Park Monuments.” Parks & Recreation, vol. 53, no. 5, May 2018, pp. 34–39. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=afh&AN=129489386&site=ehost-live.