52.4, Black Archival Practice II

Cover art by Alanna Fields

Black Archival Practice II is a collection of reflections, celebrations, and prefigurations of and for the past, present, and future of the Black lives in the Archive(s). The essays in this issue center the work of Black women in the archive(s) as archivists, researchers, historical subjects, artists, and mothers as a way to expand current understandings of how Black archival practices get imagined, contested, and negotiated within traditional archival spaces and in spaces intentionally coded as Black.

Beginning with the remarkable cover by Alanna Fields, Black Archival Practice II announces its subject as a fugitive departure from tamed, disciplinary modes of archivy. Fields’ work is a new kind of archive that conceals as much as it reveals; and, just as it reveals the persistence of Black life that is often veiled in the archive(s), so, too, do the essays in this special issue.

These essays speak to the complexities of documenting Black women’s intellectual histories through Queen Mother Audley Moore’s Archives, Samaria Rice’s Black maternal archival praxis and the memorialization of Black death, an exploration of collective ethics of care in Black archival practices via the history of a community-led rediscovery of the free Black community of Weeksville and a Brooklyn, NY-focused digital humanities project, an intimate exploration of “hoarding” and home archives in Black communities through an atypical multi-generational collection, the use of dirt as enslaved Afro-Texan women’s testimony, and the application of Black feminist witnessing to reveal racial violences obscured in legal archives.

While the seven essays in this issue range in their use of various theoretical and methodological lenses, each author offers an approach to Black archival practice that both integrates and exceeds the practices of traditional archival work and research. Together, these pieces trouble the principles of traditional archives practices and celebrate, dissect, and testify to the power of Black archives, archivists, and archival practices in ways that are both rigorous and generative.

We invite you to engage with the essays in this issue as a means of thinking about the possibilities and realities of archives and archival practices that attend to Black life in public and intimate spaces—and all of the liminal spaces in between. In these pages, we hope you will find transformative inquiry, creativity, and hope; that you will be as moved and inspired as we have been by the authors, their words, and their muses.

– Tonia Sutherland and Zakiya Collier


For a limited time, access the introduction “The Revolutionary and Radical in Black Archival Practice,” by Sutherland and Collier, and “Disorderly Distribution: The Dispersal of Queen Mother Audley Moore’s Archives and the Illegibility of Black Women Intellectuals,” by Ashley D. Farmer for free.

Personal subscriptions are $44 USD and include 4 issues. Volume 52 (2022) includes the above issue, plus Post-Soul Afro-Latinidades, and the upcoming issues Black Archival Practice I and Black Religions in the Digital Age.

In volume 53 (2023), keep an eye out for The Shape of Things to Come: Africology and the Rise of Afrofuturist Studies, a special double issue for Unsafe Words: Black Radical Pleasure II, and more. For volume 54 (2024), we’re working on Baraka’s Blues People at 60, Black Women’s Speculative Fiction (CFP), Ceddo: Black British Independent Film, and more…