The WhatsApp Common Archive

Arnika Ahldag Mudar Al-Khufash Ioannis Andronikidis Eva Bentcheva Barbara Cousin Patricia Couvet Gulzat Egemberdieva Ann Harezlak Johanna Heide Sooyoung Leam
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13.03.2022

[1]Where do archives and life stories meet? There are many facets to this question. To begin, one should take a broader look beyond the objects and documentation in any given archive, and the consider the myriad of people, encounters and exchanges which have transpired around it. Yet, as we live and work increasingly in the digital realm, the desire to locate the human elements beneath archives seems evermore challenging. As part of the workshop ‘Life Stories and Archives’, the participants and organisers developed a virtual ‘common archive’ of their own. This took the form of a conversational thread on WhatsApp. Here, they addressed some of the most pertinent questions arising out of their discussions on life stories and archives: Why do we feel a need to organise our ‘junk’? How does movement affect archiving and can an archive become nomadic? Why do we feel a need to archive trauma, and who is left out in the process? These are just some of the questions surfacing from a much larger, shared interest in how people’s biographies, personal preferences, kinships, networks and political struggles fuel the need to collect. And who knows, perhaps within the spaces of this virtual ‘common archive’, a new meeting of life stories will begin to form…

This contribution is published in the framework of the Whole Life Academy as part of the workshop “Life Stories and Archives”.

  1. This contribution is published as the workshop findings of “Life Stories and Archives”. The workshop was convened by Arnika Ahldag, Eva Bentcheva, Gulzat Egemberdieva, and Ann Harezlak and took place online from October 2021 – March 2022 as part of the Whole Life Academy Berlin. 

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