Rethinking archival practices for records documenting Jeju 4.3 (Jeju April Third)

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Park, Eunjung
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This thesis explores how archives, which manage records that document state perpetrated violence, can play a role in holding governments accountable for past atrocities and fostering truth and reconciliation. I argue for the importance of adopting a survivor-centered approach as a framework to fulfill this role. The victims, survivors and their families of Jeju 4.3(Jeju April Third, [Jeju sasam]) have endured the effects of state violence that have persisted for decades, but state-led truth and reconciliation processes, influenced by anti-communism in South Korea, have failed to adequately address the sufferings of all those affected. Despite the potential for archives to become dynamic agents in revealing the truth and making the government accountable for past injustices, current archival practices regarding the records of Jeju 4.3 have taken an administrative-centered approach. These practices sideline the perspectives of those subjected to state violence in Jeju, consequently impeding the archives’ role in holding the state accountable. Considering these shortcomings, the thesis argues that archives need to rethink their current practices and adopt a survivor-centered approach. Through this shift of framework, archives can provide a meaningful platform for marginalized voices, facilitate the truth and reconciliation process, and help to reduce the harms of anti-communism that are deeply rooted in South Korea. Shifting to a survivor-centered approach for the records of Jeju 4.3 involves four avenues of engagement: recognizing a broader spectrum of victims and survivors, engaging them as stakeholders in the archival process, adopting survivor-centered arrangement and descriptive practices, and valuing physical objects as meaningful records.
Archives, Jeju 4.3, Survivor centered approach, State violence