Archival Amnesty: In Search of Black American Transitional and Restorative Justice


  • Tonia Sutherland University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies



Archival Pluralism, Lynching, Amnesty, Transitional Justice, Restorative Justice, #ArchivesForBlackLives


Archives as memory institutions have a collective mandate to document and preserve a national cultural heritage. Recently, American archives and archivists have come under fire for pervasive homogeneity - for privileging, preserving, and reproducing a history that is predominantly white and further silencing the voices and histories of marginalized peoples and communities. This paper argues that as such, archives participate in a continuing amnesty that prevents transitional and restorative justice for black Americans in the United States. Using the history of lynching in America as a backdrop, this article explores the records and counter-narratives archives need to embrace in order to support truth and reconciliation processes for black Americans in the age of #ArchivesForBlackLives.

Author Biography

Tonia Sutherland, University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies

Tonia Sutherland is Assistant Professor of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama. Sutherland, who holds a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh's iSchool, previously held the position of Lead Researcher for the Collaborative for Historical Information and Analysis at Pitt's World History Center. Global in scope and comparative in nature, Sutherland's research and teaching interests include information stewardship, policy and ethics; technology and the arts; theories and cultures of collaboration; community and cultural informatics; digital and media asset management; and critical information studies.