‘Listening to and Being with Things’ with Dr Nydia Swaby
Nydia A. Swaby is a black feminist researcher, writer, and curator. Her practice engages archives, auto/ethnography, photography, the moving image, and the imagination to curate programmes and visual narratives, write research and performance texts that explore the gendered, diasporic, and affective dimensions of black being and becoming. Nydia is an editor of Feminist Review and co-edited an issue on Archives (July 2020). She is Curator of Learning at the ICA (on sabbatical), where she co-curated echoes, feelings, and meanings (2021), Five Volumes for Toni Morrison (2020), and several programmes as part of the Politics of Pleasure Collective (2018-2019). Nydia is a Caird Research Fellow at UCL's Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery and the National Maritime Museum, developing creative and curatorial projects based on her research. She is currently writing a speculative biography about pan-African feminist Amy Ashwood Garvey that uses her archive, life, and activism to ask broader questions about the futurity of black feminist archives and archival research (Lawrence Wishart 2023).
Grounded in black feminist theories of affect and the archive, this presentation reflects on the role of archives in her academic, creative, and curatorial work. It draws on family archives and archival encounters with material held in the Caribbean, the United States, West Africa, and the United Kingdom to show how the dispersed and fragmentary nature of archives can present opportunities, rather than limitations. Considering the different methods she employs to interpret the different kinds of ‘archives’ she works with – from manuscripts and artefacts, to photographs and prints – she proposes an archival research methodology rooted in the practice of ‘listening to’ and ‘being with’ things.
Exploding the Archive is a student-led initiative which hopes to explore some of the important themes within archival research and to create an engaging and open online meeting space for PhD researchers working with a variety of archival material to discuss the challenges they are facing in the archives.
All the online sessions are free.
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