• Making Lists, Keeping Time: Infrastructures of Black Inquiry, 1900-1950

    Author(s):
    Laura Helton (see profile)
    Date:
    2019
    Subject(s):
    African American knowledge production, African American literature, Library and Archival Studies, Information, Infrastructure, Bibliography, Periodicals
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Tag(s):
    librarians, classification, cataloguing
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/98p3-fd07
    Abstract:
    This essay places at the center of twentieth-century African American knowledge production the librarians and collectors who mapped blackness as a capacious site of inquiry in the decades before Black Studies. Between 1900 and 1950, they created infrastructures for inquiry into black history and culture through the production of bibliographies, catalogs, and indexes. A study of these list-making genres illuminates the contested terrain of infrastructure-building for black thought, while also confronting the frequent elisions of curatorial labor in theories of the archive. What becomes apparent when we turn to these figures is that acts of enumeration and organization were urgent and endemic to black thought in the first half of the twentieth century. At a time when black scholars could not access archives and when major reference works did not index black-authored periodicals, the stakes of enumeration were high. In a racially segregated information landscape, black thinkers necessarily made their arguments through lists and catalogs as well as through poetry and prose.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    5 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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