Revolutionary Digitization: Building a Participatory Archive to Document the January 25th Uprising in Egypt

Read “Revolutionary Digitization: Building a Participatory Archive to Document the January 25th Uprising in Egypt” in the July 2012 issue of Microform and Digitization Review.

Abstract

On January 25th, 2011 protests rang out in Egypt’s cities, demanding the resignation of former President Husni Mubarak. Centered in Tahrir Square, located in downtown Cairo, the non-violent demonstrations, marches, and labor strikes brought together groups of protestors from divergent ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. As Egyptians found solidarity in fighting a dictatorial regime, archivists, oral historians, faculty, students, and administrators at the American University in Cairo (AUC) convened in dorms and houses to develop a plan to document the momentous events of January and February 2011. From the onset, University on the Square: Documenting Egypt’s 21st Century Revolution project developers recognized that active collaboration with AUC and other Egyptian and global communities would be crucial to developing a comprehensive and transparent record of the January 25th Revolution.

Crowd of demonstrators

Crowd of demonstrators from the University on the Square: Documenting Egypt’s 21st Century Revolution digital collection. Image courtesy of Robeir Rasmy and the American University in Cairo Rare Books and Special Collections Library.

The University on the Square project employs the Archives 2.0 model defined by Kate Theimer to engage the AUC research community and Egyptian activists with archivists and digital projects. (Kate Theimer, “What Is the Meaning of Archives 2.0?,” The American Archivist 74, no. 1 (2011): 58-68.) Theimer  states, “archivists must be user centered and embrace opportunities to use technology to share collections, interact with users, and improve internal efficiency.”(Theimer, Archives 2.0, 60.) By embracing a collaborative, Archives 2.0 approach  to collection development and management, archivists at AUC have been able to build a participatory  archive of millions of web documents, digital library assets, and scholarly communications. Further, the process of building the January 25th Revolution participatory archive provides archivists with a unique opportunity to educate citizens of a burgeoning democracy about the role of archives in the preservation of collective memory

Source

Carolyn Runyon, “Revolutionary Digitization: Building a Participatory Archive to Document the January 25th Uprising in Egypt,”Microform & Digitization Review, 2012 (41): 60-64.

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