This essay examines the relationship between a radical politics and the institution of the archive through a history of the George Padmore Institute (GPI), a community archive attached to New Beacon Books in London. Focusing on the life and thought of John La Rose (1927–2006)—Trinidadian poet, publisher, activist, and founder of the institute—the essay explores how a politics of hope is articulated in relation to competing priorities of “foundation” and “movement.” It assesses the GPI’s radical potential as an archive designed to subvert its own authority, functioning in the spirit of a “beacon”—that is, something stable and reliable but which does not function as a destination, that is successful only if it is left behind, providing “foundation for movement.” This vision for the GPI is contextualized with regard to recent debates around archive building in the Caribbean as well as in the age of digital technology.

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