Compa – Women’s Archive is the first Brazilian digital archive totally dedicated to the memory, herstories, struggles, achievements, initiatives, micropolitics and daily revolutions of women and the feminist movement in the country.
The archive aims to map, retrieve and make publicly available collections of t-shirts, zines, pamphlets, flags, posters, chants, poetry, bottoms, scarves, manifestos and other objects and memorabilia that document, articulate and elaborate transdisciplinarily the ongoing narratives and struggles.
The archive collection is built on two fronts:
- Research and curatorial work in which we invite women and initiatives that operate in different fields of action to participate in the effort to document these memories.
- Collective construction based on the autonomous engagement of organisations, collectives, women’s movements, activists and independent feminists who want to collaborate, making their collections and materials available directly in the archive.
Compa is a project by Despina in collaboration with Lanchonete Lanchonete and its implementation (phase I) was funded by the International Relief Fund of the German Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe-Institut and other partners: www.goethe.de/relieffund.
Compa (short for “companheira”, an affectionate term used between allies in activism) was conceived following three conceptual pillars:
1 – The concept of “history from below”, that looks at history through the perspective of ordinary, oppressed, non-conformist people and marginalized groups, recognizing and recording reports and conflicts that escape the hegemonic narrative of dominant groups;
2 – The intersectional feminism perspective, which understands oppressions through layers that include gender, race, class, age, religion and other issues;
3 – The recognition of collectivity as a revolutionary and necessary field of action to imagine other possible worlds and to redefine the dominant excludenting logic.
Letter to our “compas”
The materials included in this archive seek to recover and preserve the memory of women’s struggles in resistance. They also serve as a record for our collective efforts towards building alternatives to overcome the oppressive social, political and economic structures in place.
However, we are aware that the archive is incomplete and imperfect as it was and is built in a context marked by diverse forms of structural oppression, such as colonialism, racism, heteropatriarchy, class inequalities, ableism etc. Thus, one of our tasks is to help question the status quo by highlighting, through the compiled objects, historically marginalized and silenced stories and voices.
Building a collaborative archive is a task that promotes engagement with the past as well as commitment to the future. As we collectively shape Compa, we commit to learning from the most diverse movements and collectives in order to engage in conversations with the multiple feminisms that are in line with the principles articulated in our three pillars (History from below, Intersectional feminism and Collectivity).
Thus, we call on collectives and movements of women and feminists to participate in this project that will leave a legacy of memory for all of us.