This intervention proposes a decolonial approach to Palestinian archiving initiatives based on process rather than content. By observing the current meta-data production protocols in some major Palestinian archiving projects and analyzing such politics of representations, it is clear that The Modern State Metaphor (and to a lesser extent the Political Movements) is centered as the conceptual and discursive framework for such projects in forming and performing historical knowledge. These historicizing practices dismiss any possible popular, historical narration that deviates from state and/or political movement narratives.
In “History at the Limit of World – History” (2002), Ranajit Guha discusses that the slogan “No writing, No history” was changed to “No state, No history” by 1830 amidst the Renaissance in comparison to history in a colonized context. This mirroring between the two slogans implies an equivalency between “Writing” and “State.” Consequently, writing history is the essence of the production of the state, and as such is the WRITING OF STATE History. In turn, writing through the void of a state means writing that is not recognized as a legitimate contribution to the historical record. In the Palestinian case, how could and should such a dispossessed and diasporic archive be imagined without this claimed centrality?
By considering the primary, and basic elements of “The Modern State” (any state): territory, an identified group of people, and authority, we can see that state-based archiving protocols serve to continuously reproduce these three spaces of sovereignty and are only contested or decoded by the human body used to mobilize against the state from within. As the body navigates the performative spaces of archive-making, sometimes silenced and sometimes amplified depending on its relationship with the state, it can be mobilized through the archival process as a point of either dominance or resistance. This intervention proposes that Palestinian archiving projects emerging from the state and/or political movements like the metaphor, are there to annex modernity discourses regarding Palestinian bodies in their own history and existence instead of disrupting it.
As such, it is not enough to say that we as archivists are after the Opposite of what an institutional or colonial state archive demands even on the level of the process. To counteract that archival violence and archive history from the bottom up we need to render the idea of truth and implement a kind of hermeneutical perspective towards different tones in the archive, starting from the necro-sovereignty.