Agnes Livingstone, Thomas Livingstone, Abdullah Susi, James Chuma, Horace Waller with manuscripts.

One More Voice


Lost Voices from the British Empire's Archives

Introduction

One More Voice, a work of digital humanities scholarship, focuses on recovering non-European contributions from nineteenth-century British imperial and colonial archives. The name reflects the fact that there is always one more voice to recover from the archives. The non-European contributions take multiple forms and appear in multiple genres, including travel narratives, autobiographies, letters, diaries, testimonies, interviews, treaties, maps, oral histories, genealogies, and vocabularies. One More Voice attempts to offer a critical and systematic evaluation of these rich and diverse materials by using interpretive approaches and digital preservation techniques that expand existing scholarship on the topic. Learn more about our analytical priorities, project design (including accessibility features), approach to collaboration, and coding guidelines.

That said, the recovery work of One More Voice will always be incomplete due to the fragmentary and biased nature of imperial and colonial archives. The project, therefore, does not seek to be totalizing and comprehensive, nor is its goal simply to add more voices to the nineteenth-century British literary canon. Rather, One More Voice engages in a program of decolonization by highlighting the number of global voices that exist in the archives of Empire and, consequently, by asking critics and others to revise their understanding of the contents of these archives. Specifically, the project shows the archives to be more diverse than is usually acknowledged and underscores the fact that any voice from these archives must be read and understood as already embedded in a wider intercultural, documentary context. As part of this program, the project also rewrites the concept of authorship so that it encompasses archival “contributions,” a term of inclusiveness that reverses the Eurocentric, exclusionary nature of literary “authorship” as it is usually understood.

More generally, the project's interpretive approach undercuts a long-standing practice in nineteenth-century British studies of ignoring or minimizing the abundance of non-European voices in the archives and thus of “diversifying” the field only by the token addition of individual voices. One More Voice instead brings to the fore a wide range of other voices and, by doing so, amplifies them and allows them to be heard so that scholars, students, and others might engage with nineteenth-century memory, literature, and history in a whole new manner. For those interested in applying decolonial methodologies and ways of knowing in their research, One More Voice also identifies an assortment of primary materials – archival and print as well as artifact – that might play a foundational role in such a program of analysis.

One More Voice has been created and published by members of the Livingstone Online project staff and extends the long-standing ideals of that project in a new direction. We have released the site in an early and as-yet-developing form due to the circumstances created by the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. All original critical and critically-edited primary materials are released under a Creative Commons license and are available for immediate use in the classroom, in scholarship by others, and in other educational contexts.

Publication has been made possible by producing new scholarship while applying minimal computing principles and adapting open-access code and digital tools from other relevant projects. Given these affordances, however, the project contributors recognize that there is considerable room for improvement in our work. We are actively searching for new collaborators, especially scholars and students whose backgrounds link them to areas that historically fell under the sway of the British Empire in the nineteenth century. If interested, please contact us.