“We are literally in need of archives,” declares Hela Ammar, a Tunisian visual artist and “self-described militant feminist.” Ammar’s statement, published in March 2014 on the multilingual research forum Ibraaz, is one among many declarations about archive formation after the Arab Spring (Gabsi 2014). Underlying its urgency is the assumption that in times of disorientation, archives reorient people, acting as symptoms of and remedies for the precariousness of political upheaval. “It is precisely when the future appears uncertain,” continues Ammar, “that one returns to the past.” While this may be the case, the uses of archives are not limited to their symptomatic and therapeutic appearance in times of revolution. Archive is also among the preferred critical terms used to theorize subversive aesthetics and politics today.

A weighty anthology, Dissonant Archives features the work of over thirty scholars...

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