Sovereignty: Records and the Right to Rule
July 7 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT
6:00pm – 8:00pm GMT
Walking around Marlborough House in London, a former royal palace and now the seat of the Commonwealth Secretariat, you can pick up wifi networks called ‘Imperium I, ‘Imperium II’, etc. Imperium refers to an ancient Roman legal concept concerning the right to rule, which, used in this location, seems both ominous and like an inappropriate joke. The right to rule, the sovereignty of nations and persons, has preoccupied political thought for centuries and, though under-recognised as such, it is a recurrent theme in archival discourse. Here, the concept is at work as ‘authoritative records’, ‘custody’, ‘stewardship’, ‘chain of preservation’, ‘rights in records’, etc. This panel will seek to surface ‘sovereignty’ as an archival concept approaching its double in political theory in significance and complexity. Panellists will consider archival sovereignty from Indigenous, anticolonial, postcolonial and digital perspectives, presenting studies of Indigenous sovereignty over records in settler colonial states, national sovereignty in the removal of records, personal sovereignty over ones’ digital remains, and data sovereignty for the stateless. How is the right to rule encoded in records and recordkeeping infrastructure, and what, if anything, is archival sovereignty?
Organizers: James Lowry, Jamila Ghaddar, Maria Montenegro, Tonia Sutherland, Proscovia Svard