The Covid-19 virus has thrust us all into extraordinary times. We are afraid. We are hopeful for change. We are afraid again.
Many of us are uncertain of income, uncertain for ourselves and our loved ones, uncertain for our future – but we all have very different practical and emotional responses to the virus, to the lockdown, and to our previous lives.
In the midst of this crisis, we wanted to find a way to bring people together and share our different responses. This is an archive that will keep a record of as many of these feelings and effects as we can, to inform future organising and for the preservation of our collective memory. All contributions will remain in MayDay Rooms’ archive and will be processed once we exit the crisis
Between the History of Propaganda and the Propaganda of History
“Today many people are learning their real history for the first time…” This sentence appeared in 1979 at the top of a poster about British colonialism in Zimbabwe. It was produced by a group of radical activists and propagandists, the Poster-Film Collective, as part of a series of called “Whose World is the World?” Their posters, which collaged together historical images with sharp explanatory texts, were widely disseminated, being sent out to schools and colleges, along with teaching materials. In response to producing materials that challenged the racism of “official histories” widely taught in schools, the Poster-Film Collective were referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for incitement under the Race Relations Act. The collective continued to produce history posters throughout the 1980s, including a series on women’s history, from the witch-hunts, to campaigns for suffrage, to struggles within the contemporary family and consumer society (copies of which are held in the MDR Archive); and a series on the history of technology and the ideologies behind it.
This project takes its inspiration from these radical interventions. We will develop creative and collective responses to archival materials, producing new pieces of historical propaganda, while opening conversations about new forms of political education through engagement with the material histories of struggle.
MayDay Radio is an experiment in oral histories and sound production; it is a place to share equipment and skills; it is a platform to create new oral histories and activate existing archives, those at the MayDay Rooms but also beyond.
NORLA is the Network of Radical Libraries and Archives. We are made up of independent archives from around the UK that hold material relating the radical histories of struggle, emancipation and liberation movements, and counter culture.
In a time when archives and libraries are increasing under threat from closure or increasing centralisation, NORLA was re-established to share resources, skills, and to provide a platform to advocate the importance of independent cultural and heritage resources that reflect the politics of the materials they hold.
At present the NORLA member are; 56a Infoshop, Activist Media Project, Bishopsgate Institute, Feminist Library, George Padmore Institute Archive, MayDay Rooms, Marx Memorial Library, Sparrows’ Nest Library and Archive, and Statewatch Archive.
Find out more the archives and their collections here here
Squatting is a Part of the Housing Movement: Practical Squatting Histories 1969-2019
Squatting Is Part of The Housing Movement: Practical Squatting Histories from 1968 to 2019 is the outcome of a residency in MayDay Rooms, and is part of our Housing Struggles Archive that we compiled last year. After an extensive research and a gathering of materials from different archives, including 56a Infoshop, there is now a three box collection of materials on squatting history in the UK. This publication will put the material in context. Download the publication here
leftove.rs is a project that seeks to create a shared online archive of radical, anti-oppressive, and working class movements, and the material traces they have left. The platform will aid the dissemination of archived ephemera from these movements, campaigns, and struggles, casting light on histories of resistance from below. We hope that the project will become a vital resource through opening up archives of radical dissent. It will also offer an occasion to scrutinise digital documents, make connections between materials that conventional cataloguing and metadata systems have often suppressed, and to think of new ways of distributing the archive, or even of creating distributed archives. Find out more here
Activist Media Project
Activist Media Project (AMP) is an archive of activist media in video, photograph and written form. It is also an online platform where media can be stored, annotated, sorted and re-presented to support social and environmental justice movements. The objective of AMP is to preserve activist media and facilitate different processes for individuals and groups to collaborate on: shared readings of histories, ongoing and future campaigns, providing support of core participants in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.
We are currently developing an archive of material recording the events of the Calais border struggle, primarily limited to the period of 2014-2016. As borders become increasingly key sites of anti-racist, anti-capitalist and anti-state struggle, it becomes more important to forge a memory of border struggles against the violences of official history. We're interested in any resources produced throughout this period; campaign ephemera, information bulletins, statements, footage and photographs, practical guides, articles etc. and individuals who were present on the ground in Calais who might be interested in providing oral testimonies.
If you have any material or are interested in getting involved in the archive please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more here
London Housing Struggles Archive
The London Housing Struggles Archive is a collection of materials related to housing campaigns, squatting and rent strikes. The housing campaigns’ boxes are covering struggles from two different time periods, one spreading from 1975 to 1991 and the other starting around 2010 and reaching the present.
MayDay Rooms organises 6-month residency program of projects that creatively contribute to our collections and the practice of archival ‘activation', which guides the organisation. At MDR we aim to create dynamic situations – not to sit passively on archival holdings. A commitment to linking historical material to contemporary social struggles guides our archival practices: how we collect, exhibit, and disseminate material. These residencies seek to create a space to engage with practice-led archival research that experiments with new models of 'activation' and helps us to develop our own.