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Unsettled StatesNineteenth-Century American Literary Studies$
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Dana Luciano and Ivy Wilson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479857722

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479857722.001.0001

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Doing Justice to the Archive

Doing Justice to the Archive

Beyond Literature

(p.103) 4 Doing Justice to the Archive
Unsettled States

Shelley Streeby

NYU Press

This chapter explores the case of anarchist activist Lucy Parsons, whose 1913 arrest for selling literature without a license—in the form of a printed collection of anarchist speeches—merges the question of what constitutes literature with the examination of what constitutes the archive and the history to which it refers. According to Parsons, the space of history is both danger and consolation. This dialectical view seems to be shaped by her own losses over the years when police raided the offices of newspapers she wrote for and groups she organized. The role of state and corporate power in all this archival destruction and preservation, as well as their investments in defining history, should not go unnoticed. It is crucial to acknowledge the limits and regulatory frames that official archives impose upon the subjects of history.

Keywords:   Lucy Parsons, literature, archive, history, archival destruction, archival preservation

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