BKS2000H Final Paper Proposal Presentation: Gift Economy, Anarchy, Archives, and UbuWeb


#DigitalArchives, #InterfaceArchives, #AutonomousArchives, #GiftEconomy, #AvantGarde, #UbuWeb, #Publics, #EmergentPublics,  #Community, #Activism, #Anarchy



“UbuWeb’s large, boundary-blurring archive of the avant-garde necessarily alters what is meant by avant-garde, a term saddled with the legacies of patriarchy, hegemony, imperialism, colonization, and militarization.…When you assemble a collection of the avant-garde, you run the risk of replicating everything wrong that is associated with it. In response, we deployed impurity as a way of muddying, détourning, and playfully reimagining the avant-garde, twisting and warping the rigorous, hard-baked grids of modernism into something more fluid, organic, incorrect, and unpredictable” (About Us, UbuWeb)

“UbuWeb is a purposely unstable library, a conflicted curation, an archive assembled by embracing the fragmented, the biased, the subjective, and the incomplete” (About us, UbuWeb)

“UbuWeb can be construed as the Robin Hood of the avant-garde, but instead of taking from one and giving to another, we’re giving to all. UbuWeb is as much about the legal and social ramifications of its self-created distribution and archiving system as it is about the content it hosts” (About Us, UbuWeb)

Potential Avenues of Research UbuWeb

Although I am still working through what I want to argue, I am interesting in looking

(1) at the ways UbuWeb is or is not a digital archive;
(2) at the ways it participates in gift economy;
(3) at the ways it potentially disrupts or mimics avant-garde philosophies;
(4) at the ways it is or is not limited as a digital archive;
(5) and at the ways it disrupts or mimics ‘traditional’ and sometimes problematic concepts associated with archives.

Inspired my Joel Harrisons article, “Web Poetics and the Gift Economy: Nzepc, PennSound and UbuWeb.”


Abramson, Bruce. Digital Phoenix: Why the Information Economy Collapsed and How It Will Rise Again. MIT Press, 2006. 

Cheal, David. The Gift Economy. 1st ed., Routledge, 1988.

Drucker, Johanna. “The Back End: Infrastructure Design for Scholarly Research.” The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies, vol. 8, no. 2, 2017, pp. 119-113., doi:10.5325/jmodeperistud.8.2.0119. 

Goldsmith, Kenneth. Duchamp Is My Lawyer: the Polemics, Pragmatics, and Poetics of UbuWeb. Columbia University Press, 2020. 

Harrison, Joel. “Web Poetics and the Gift Economy: Nzepc, PennSound and UbuWeb.” Ka Mate Ka Ora: a New Zealand Journal of Poetry and Poetics, vol. 2, 2006, pp. 5–21. 

Kotin, Joshua. “Digital Archives, Avant-Garde Periodicals: An Introduction.” The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies, vol. 8, no. 2, 2017, pp. v-viii., doi:10.5325/jmodeperistud.8.2.v. 

Moore, Shaun and Pell, Susan. “Autonomous Archives.” International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 16, no. 4, June 2010, pp. 255 – 268., doi: 10.1080/13527251003775513

Monks-Leeson, Emily. “Archives on the Internet: Representing Contexts and Provenance from Repository to Website.” The American Archivist, vol. 74, no. 1, 2011, pp. 38–57., doi:10.17723/aarc.74.1.h386n333653kr83u.

Owens, Trevor. “What Do You Mean by Archive? Genres of Usage for Digital Preservers.” What Do You Mean by Archive? Genres of Usage for Digital Preservers | The Signal, 27 Feb. 2014, blogs.loc.gov/thesignal/2014/02/what-do-you-mean-by-archive-genres-of-usage-for-digital-preservers/.

Sellie, Alycia, et al. “Interference Archive: a Free Space for Social Movement Culture.” Archival Science, vol. 15, no. 4, 2015, pp. 453–472., doi:10.1007/s10502-015-9245-5. 

UbuWeb, ubu.com/.

Velios, Athanasios. “Creative Archiving: A Case Study from the John Latham Archive.” Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol. 32, no. 2, 2011, pp. 255–271., doi:10.1080/00379816.2011.619705.