From 1972 to the early 1990s, Canadian feminist media collectives created dozens of social-issue documentaries and television series, producing an ephemeral archive of a vibrant era of political and social change. This article discusses the loss and/or deterioration of the material object of research, and it attempts, instead, to account for affect. In the absence of a complete audiovisual record, the passionate sites of embodied feeling experienced, remembered, and misremembered by the subjects of this history (including the author) become a way to reinscribe this history. Via interviews with collective members, screenings of archival works, and autoethnographic and archival research, the author examines the sites of feeling that accompanied the collective production of media works, as well as changes in public policy and the rise of neoliberal regulation that have impacted feminist organizing in Canada. The author argues that the lack of primary and secondary records of these collectives represents a significant gap in historical memory on several levels, signaling the forgetting of a moment when technology, public broadcasting, and feminist activism merged. As both participant and researcher, the author narrativizes this history in a way that moves beyond the absence or deterioration of a visual artifact, contending instead with ghosts, feelings, traces of memory and videotape, losses and gains, as well as with the productive dialogue and tension that occurs between historical forms of media activism and current digital platforms for feminist activism.
Marusya Bociurkiw; Big Affect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second-Wave Feminist Video Collectives in Canada. Camera Obscura 1 December 2016; 31 (3 (93)): 5–33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-3661991
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