Kathy Carbone: Creating a Community-led Participatory Digital Archive for Forced Migration, Contemporary Art, and Action

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Event Details

16 Oct 2019 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Building H, level 8, H801 Boardroom. Video Conference to 14 Rainforest Walk, Seminar room G12A
IT research seminars


Speaker: Kathy Carbone


The global population of forcibly displaced people grew to nearly 71 million in 2018 according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)—the highest level of displacement that the UNHCR has seen in its almost 70 years. Over the past several years, more and more artists, as well as art institutions, both large and small, are responding to forced migration and refugee experiences and realities. Indeed, even the UNHCR in Venice is currently running alongside the 58th Venice Biennale an exhibition, “Rothko in Lampedusa,” that showcases the work of established and emerging refugee artists. These art-world responses to displacement and refugeehood not only create new avenues for discourse and offer alternative perspectives than those presented through the eyes of politicians and mass media, but also intervene in and counter anti-refugee and xenophobic rhetoric.

As an archivist, scholar, and artist interested in working with artists and curators to document, preserve, and disseminate artwork centered on forced displacement, in 2018, I initiated the Amplification Project, an international collaborative effort to create a community-based participatory digital archive to preserve, connect, raise the visibility, and amplify the impact of contemporary artwork and activist projects related to forced migration. The Amplification Project seeks to be a ‘living archive’—an open platform for people to contribute artwork and engage in dialogue about displacement, an archiving tool for existing and new creative projects, and a resource for research and activism in ways as to promote greater understanding of forced migration and its effects on societies, cultures, and lives.

The Amplification Project is in a nascent stage. Therefore, in this presentation, I explore foundational aspects, such as the social, cultural, and political exigencies influencing the project's development as well as my preliminary observations about working with artists, curators, and digital humanities technology consultants to build the archive. In tandem, I consider the project’s theoretical and methodological frameworks, which draw into conversation key archival studies research and professional practice areas including the community archives movement, participatory archives, “active archiving” and “archival activism” (Flinn and Alexander 2015), and displacement and human rights with action research, participatory design, and visual and art studies thought on migration, critical art-making, belonging, and representation. In conclusion, I will discuss principle challenges, initial findings, and forward steps.

Kathy Carbone

Presenter bio

Dr. Kathy Carbone is a Postdoctoral Scholar and Lecturer in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Prior to joining UCLA, she was the Institute Archivist and Performing Arts Librarian for over a decade at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and a modern dancer and choreographer for more than 20 years. Carbone holds a Ph.D. in Information Studies from UCLA, an MLIS from Kent State University, an MA in Dance and Music and a BFA in Dance from Ohio University. Carbone’s research focuses on contemporary art practices with archives; documenting and archiving performance; human rights, social justice, and archives; art and forced migration; and, digital community archives. She is currently a researcher with the Refugee Rights in Records (R3) Initiative.

Host: Gillian Oliver

Event Contact

Gillian Oliver