16 – Latin American Anarchivisms: Overturning the Order of Life

The theoretical explosion of the archive as a concept passes through a powerful politicization of its constitutive forms and ways of functioning, not to mention the inner tension between the order that the archive implies and the anarchic politics which destabilize it. This latter aspect is crucial for this issue. In order to focus the critical movement around the politics of the archive, Foucault’s contributions are decisive. Defined as “the new archivist” by Deleuze, Foucault’s archeological dislocation breaks apart the historical formations of knowledges, allowing to question the political order working inside the archive, as well as the diagram of forces and relations of power which passes through it.

It is thus that, nowadays, the notion of an archive reached a central dimension in philosophy, proposing itself as a field of problematization for contemporary thought, insofar as the order it configures in the recorded traces of social production is, following Foucault, inseparable from the one existing between livings. On the specific subject of the political order between corpus and bodies, Derrida inaugurates a line of reflection that starts from archive’s Greek etymology: arche refers, in fact, to the double principle of origin and law, namely between arche and nomos – from which the archontic power finds its strength (Derrida 1996). This latter is the authority of the law which imposes itself on the documents organized by the archons’ power of consignation, guardians of the archive and responsible for its interpretation.

At the same time, the theoretical space opened up by Foucault and Derrida is composed of a map with Deleuzian machinations and vital singularities that subjugate and dislocate the archive: “an emergence of forces which remains distinct from the history of forms” (Deleuze 1988: 86). In Deleuze, the diagram of forces presents itself as a space of mutations, clashes and revolts (the virtual) that come from outside, actualising the archive, its audiovisual regimes and power relations, but also, at the same time, promoting lines of resistance to the imposed order between what can be said and seen – between the utterable and the visible. With Deleuze, the outside is always an opening towards the future, and thus there is neither a beginning nor an end that can be imposed in a totalitarian manner by the arche: “nothing ends, since nothing has begun, but everything is transformed.” (Deleuze 1988: 89).

Therefore, the interest of this issue of La Deleuziana focuses on investigating the anarchic potentialities that destabilize and subvert the archive. In this sense, the growing critical debate coming from Latin America and focusing on the restrictive functions of the archive, but also on its anarchivist potential – of course, in tension with the Anglo-Saxon archival turn with its centralized geopolitical location – is crucial. We are also interested in analyzing how this supposed centrality of Anglo-Saxon criticism has been called into question by the Global North itself, thanks to the anarchic and political deployment of artistic practices and theoretical reflections that appropriate contemporary technologies and economic contexts to construct new research-creation processes. For these reasons, we empathize with the proliferation of those collaborative and participatory forms between different artists and researchers that can generate anarchivistic alterations for which the work represents neither an origin nor an end, but rather a form that is always in a process, open to reworking and the intervention of new forces.

Within this line of experimentation are projects such as the one developed by the international network of artists and researchers of the SenseLab, based in Montreal, or that of The Sphere, whose works and artistic proposals explore the intensive powers of the anarchive, as well as its hermeneutic and heuristic condition, in order to question the traditional forms of cultural production and generate other possibilities for experimenting and relating artistic and social practices. The anarchive, in its condition of openness and incompleteness, sets in motion a relational and processual practice in which the artistic work frees itself from the traditional categories of ownership and transcendence in order to be altered in the future, to be pressed from outside, to become a common good.

In this way, we find points of affinity and convergence between the anarchivistic projects mentioned and the processes developed with anarchive in Latin America: we refer, for example, to the work of the Red de Conceptualismos del Sur and its reflections and practices oriented towards the repoliticisation of the archive, of its anarchivistic, anomic and inappropriable variants, in order to think forms of the common in the context of violence and precarity that characterises contemporary crises. We are aware of its political force, capable of generating from other modes of existence forms of mutual organisation and cooperation that empower the anarchic forces of the living in the face of the domination of financial capitalism and its state and institutional devices of oppression and exploitation.

The ascription of the problem within a Latin American framework calls for an in-depth examination of the state of the question of archives in directions that proceed from a notoriously heterogeneous matrix, as heterogeneous as are the different forms of critical intervention traversed: from post-colonial claims to those of social collectives, feminist movements, sexual dissidence, social disputes for memory to aesthetic currents and artistic practices that produce alterations and mutations in the social body.

In this issue, we are also interested in exploring the relations between Deleuzian thought and Latin American philosophical reflection on the archive, insofar as we can understand the latter as a social machine transversal and coextensive with the entire social field that, in turn, delimits, classifies and organises, with the aim of establishing the political order that defines “the actual”. This last inflection of the notion of the archive as a social machine in alliance with Deleuzian thought was proposed by the Chilean thinker André Maximiliano Tello to account for the machinic constitution of the archive (of its interlinking with other machines such as the state or capitalist machines) and the lines of flight that escape its closure, that is, of those anarchivistic forces that disrupt the social order and signal other paths of resistance in the face of the arcane powers of governmental apparatuses, institutions and their devices of discipline and control.

Still within Latin American criticism, but from a different perspective, Daniel Link traces the possibility of a “Bien de archivo [Good of the archive]” (playfully winking at Derrida), of which a more pharmacological dimension emerges that makes us wonder if it is not possible to reuse archives to attack against them, to counter the power of the archons (and their disciplinary categories: canon, institution, etc.) and to liberate the singularity of the archived traces. Similarly, Nelly Richard also charted a particular course in cultural criticism, pushing to think of aesthetic archives of revolts, whose practices in turn construct forms of the common in a fabric of counter-hegemonic affects and knowledge. In Latin American arts and literature, one finds various subversive experiences that start from the reappropriation of archives in order to disrupt regimes of truth. It is for these reasons that such trajectories or possible routes of investigation cross our lines of interest and constitute the nodes of the attention of this call for papers. Here, the archive, both as a notion and as a practice, appears as an intensive space where forms of knowledge and their power relations are configured, but also modes of subjectivation that resist through the anarchic disobedience of their respective practices.

Ultimately, this issue aims to follow in the wake of Latin American anarchivist experiences by recognising their pluralist, heterogeneous and singular dimension, in the light of their theoretical, political, aesthetic and cultural implications in an era of radical transformations in the technologies of storage, classification and instrumentalisation of the traces of social production on a global scale.

We thus think of the Latin American anarchivistic movement as a movement of disruption, a disturbance of the absolutist dream of governments of memory, against regimes of truth that claim to unify the registers of latent multiplicity in social life. At last, we think of the anarchivistic movement as a form of health in the midst of the totalitarian threats of the present.

Main (but not exclusive) lines of work:

Machining the Archive: Is there a relationship between contemporary philosophy and Latin American thought of the archive? What defines an anarchivistic practice in the context of Latin American thought? What are the possible alliances between Deleuzian thought and anarchivistic practices in Latin America? Is it possible to activate zones of anarchivistic resistance against the archaic power of new technologies of archiving and social control?

Anarchives and Forms of the Common: What are the collective strategies of anarchist intervention in contemporary cultural production? What are the forms of anarchives and their theoretical and creative reinventions: inappropriable archives, anomic archives, archives of the future? What relationship do new media maintain with forms of disarchiving and anarchiving? How can we think of an anarchivistic ethic for reclaiming the common? Can the anarchivist constitute and make possible other forms of community?

Latin American Anarchivist Practices: How to activate anarchivistic modes of resistance in everyday political practices? What relationship exists between state, archive and anarchivism? Is it possible to think of new relations between knowledge, powers and modes of subjectivation? How are archives of revolts, memories of conflict and collective struggles for life articulated? How do feminist struggles, sexual dissidence, decolonising processes relate to anarchivistic practices?

Notion of Archive and Latin American Criticism: is a new relationship between reading, literature and archive possible? How to activate a Good of the archive that obliterates its archaic function as a space for the domination of corpus and bodies? What are the anarchivistic strategies to disorganise the library, canon and tradition?

Archive, Literature and Memory: What is the relationship and difference between the incorporation of archive materials into literature and literary machinations against the archive? In what sense does subversion acquire a key position in the relationship between archive and literature? How can fictitious archives, dissident writings and counterhegemonic memories be constructed on a literary level?


Derrida, Jacques (1996). Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Deleuze, Gilles (1988). Foucault. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Foucault, Michel (1970). The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Pantheon Books.

Foucault, Michel (1972). The Archaeology of Knowledge. New York: Pantheon Books.

Link, Daniel (2019). « Bien de archivo » in Actas de las III Jornadas de discusión/ II Congreso Internacional. Archivos personales en transición. De lo privado a lo público, de lo analógico a lo digital. Buenos Aires: CeDInCI, IIAC-UNTREF y UDELAR, p.24-42. En ligne: https://jornadasarchivos.cedinci.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Actas-archivos-personales-en-transicion-2019.pdf.

Tello, Andrés Maximiliano (2018). Anarchivismo: Tecnologías políticas del archivo. Adrogué: La Cebra.



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