Digitality has radically and dynamically transformed the role of traditional archives and museums as repositories for revered, to-be-safeguarded cultural objects.

Consider just a few developments:

  • The online proliferation of de facto archives created by users and industry organizations
  • The expanding social engagement and complexity of Web 2.0 and digital culture
  • The radical expansion of copyright regimes that entail ever more intrusive forms of monitoring and enforcement

These and myriad other changes in the media and cultural landscape, as well as the new habits and expectations of scholars, researchers, and the general public alike, now challenge archives’ traditional missions of custody and controlled access.

The unquestioned trust and task of defining the authenticity, provenance, and movement of archival objects and collections – once the sole province and prerogative of legacy institutions and expert curators – has become more open, participatory, and fluid. In the face of “remix culture,” “archive fever,” and emergent “long tail” phenomena, institutions and rights holders are struggling to come to terms with these new, shared missions and responsibilities. The way ahead for reinventing cultural heritage institutions is uncharted, but inaction is not an altermative. Institutions and practices must adapt or risk irrelevance.

The central aim of Reimagining the Archive is to explore the changing role of archives and cultural heritage institutions, including the new opportunities presented by the remapping and remixing of traditional, cherished, and seemingly immutable institutional models and practices.

How might archives build new relationships and professional paradigms, and perhaps ultimately a new philosophy of archives and archiving that embrace and enrich the contemporary “many to many” landscape of media culture? Reimagining the Archive has been organized to address these and a range of other questions and themes:


  • New roles for archives: circulation, annotation, mediation and evaluation
  • Shifts in institutional focus from archives of objects to archives of events -- from archive as entity/ repository to archive as activity and performance
  • The proliferation of de facto archives
  • From “audiences” to “users”: from reception to engagement and social production
  • The documentation, annotation and evaluation of emergent and innovative objects, forms, genres, e.g., games, net apps, social media, “worlds”


  • The changing legal, regulatory, ethical, and policy landscape of digital cultural heritage, nationally and internationally; threats to fair use and the public domain
  • Digital creation and clearance culture: remix and policing
  • Intellectual freedom v. digital rights management (DRM)
  • Peer-to-peer architectures and collections
  • The cloud and the archive
  • Internet, archives, or both? Does the Internet need to be archived? Is it a container of content, content in itself, or both? Can it be archived in the absence of designated archival responsibility or action?


  • The future of archives as knowledge references and authorities
  • Digital challenges to core archival principles
  • Assigning value, selection, collecting
  • The significance of independent/amateur media production
  • Persistence of memory, ecstasy of forgetting: issues of exclusion, selection, sorting, and choice; what to keep and why? Where and when is memory, remembering, forgetting?
  • Archives as memory and knowledge. Digitization and new possibilities for scholarly, analytical and critical reading. Do digital media convey knowledge in a new way, and if so, what kinds of knowledge? What are the implications for education, cultural transmission, and pedagogy?

The Symposium will serve as a forum for wide-ranging discussion and debate on all aspects of archival practice, technology, policy, and research. It brings together archival and cultural scholars, professionals from private and public cultural organizations, mainstream and independent creative artists who make digital media and artworks, and specialists from major information technology and media firms engaged in all aspects of digital asset management, conservation, and preservation.

Symposium Organized By: UCLA Film & Television Archive, UCLA MA Program in Moving Image Archive Studies and INA (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel, France) and Ina SUP European Centre for Research, Training and Education on Digital Media

With Support From: The National Digital Information Infrastructure Preservation Program (NDIIPP), The U.S. Library of Congress, The UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and The UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television

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