Archival activism

NOV paper cadaversPaper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala
Kirsten Weld
2014, Duke University Press
352 pages, plates, paperback


FACTS are subversive, and none more so than the irrefutable. The discovery in Guatemala of 75 million pages of archives gathered by the country’s police in 2005 renewed fierce debates about history and memory in a country still struggling to come to terms with the past after its brutal 36-year civil war (1960–96). The largest treasure trove of secret state records ever uncovered in Latin America, and one of the most horrific, the Guatemalan records amounted to an archive of repression. They provided scholar Kirsten Weld with an unparalleled window into the politics of memory, the wages of the Cold War and the stakes of historical knowledge production. In this remarkable book, she enters the darkest recesses of the world that they concealed to weave a tale that puts the unsung archivist activist centre stage in the reckoning of the counterinsurgency state. Librarians of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your microfiche readers. – EC