Randa Hadi on archives as 'palaces of memories for collective imagination'

For Futuress, Randa Hadi wrote about (Re)claiming Archives and creating space to cultivate and store memories for ‘collective imagination’:

Growing up in Kuwait to a family of storytellers, stories and memories were always told and seldomly written. As a child, I would spend hours listening to my mom’s funny recollections of traveling in a large van with her extended Arab family through the hot, humid summers of Orlando, Florida. My dad told emotional and brutal stories about being in the Kuwaiti Air Force during the Gulf War, infused with his unique sense of humor, while his mom, my grandma Sadeeqa Al Harmi, often recalled the day that a bunch of Iraqi soldiers stormed their house and took my dad as a prisoner. My maternal grandma, Jawahir Abdullah Ibraheem, shared little about her early years in Iran, except that her loving big sister, Aisha, took care of her. When Aisha died, my grandma moved to Dubai to live with her great aunt Domoni, but these weren’t happy days. At age 14, Jawahir moved to Kuwait and got married, and eventually had nine children, three of whom passed away shortly after birth. But despite her difficulties and sorrows, she always spoke fondly about how her community helped her raise her family.

If remembering is powerful, so is forgetting. Forgetting can happen intentionally or unintentionally, as a natural product of aging or as a result of trauma. Forgetting, however, should never be confused with erasure, which is a violent and intentional act of silencing that augments the power of the oppressors, while subduing the oppressed and creating simplified narratives about how the world has come into being. For the marginalized, forgetting is often an act of survival, which can serve as an indication of healing. We do not need to hold space for the recollections that don’t serve us, and letting painful memories fade away can be restorative.

With the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza right now and Israeli forces destroying means of communication, we need archives more than ever. We need to tell these stories and make sure they are never forgotten while states try to erase what was rightfully there.

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