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Archiving riot grrrl & third wave culture.

Kate Eichhorn, THE ARCHIVAL TURN IN FEMINISM: OUTRAGE IN ORDER. Temple University Press, 2013. 208p. notes, bibl. index. $70.50, ISBN 978-1439909515; pap., $27.95, ISBN 978-1439909522; ebook, $27.95, ISBN 978-1439909539.

Kate Eichhorn takes a queer and cultural theoretical approach to archived Riot Grrrl and Third Wave feminist materials in this compact work of 160 pages. The book begins with an overview of Eichhorn's analyses and theoretical orientations and then moves into three case studies, each focused on a collection: the zines at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History & Culture, in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University; the Riot Grrrl collection in New York University's Fales Library & Special Collections; and the zine library at Barnard College.

As Eichhorn lays out in the introduction, this is not meant to be a standard history, but rather a "dirty" history that uses a "queer" methodology. That methodology is based on interviews with archivists and others, along with "participant observations carried out in archives and special collections where [Eichhorn] was simultaneously engaged in archival research," and it is "informed by overlapping and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of history that take as their starting points a deep skepticism about history's claim to truth and transcendence" (p. 17).

Consistent with this stance, the text follows an episodic and exploratory trajectory through the author's engagement with the three Third Wave feminist collections: the Bingham Center's zine collections, preserved as they were accumulated by individuals like Sarah Dyer of Action Grrrl Newsletter, the semi-restricted papers, including zines, of influential Riot Grrrls such as Kathleen Hanna; and an item-level-cataloged and circulating (!) special collection of zines at Barnard. Topics examined along the way include the World Center for Women's Archives, Riot Grrrl and the avante garde, and radical cataloging, while discussion also draws on the work of prominent critical and cultural theorists such as Michel Foucault, Anne Cvetkovich, Elizabeth Freeman, Clare Hemmings, Pierre Bourdieu, Donna Haraway, and Judith Halberstam.

Although the book eschews a central argument or conclusion, a few overall themes emerge: non-linear cause-and-effect relationships spread over time in the archive; the fraught and contested relationship between the Second and Third Waves; and the question of whether an activist practice can remain activist once it is absorbed into institutional structures.

[Virginia Corvid is a former volunteer zine librarian who discovered Riot Grrrl through zines at ZAPP, the Zine Archive and Publishing Project in Seattle, WA.]

Caption: Miriam Greenwald

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Author:Corvid, Virginia
Publication:Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources
Date:Jun 22, 2016
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