An archive of one's own: Subcultural creativity and the politics of conservation


  • Alexis Lothian University of Southern California



Archives, Fan community, OTW


In response to a rapidly changing scene of intellectual property in digital media, activist fans have mobilized to develop a communal, nonprofit group to provide fans with an "archive of their own", protecting fan works from deletion by server hosts who believe those works to be in breach of copyright. In 2008, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) incorporated as a nonprofit, and the Archive of Our Own went live in 2009. I am a paid-up member of the OTW—and publishing in the journal it sponsors, after being part of the editorial team for the first five issues—because I believe in the artistic and cultural importance of fan works and I want them to be preserved. But I also believe we must look critically at the meaning-making projects that are encompassed within the OTW's goal of legitimatizing and preserving fan works for the future.

Author Biography

Alexis Lothian, University of Southern California

Alexis Lothian is a PhD student in the English department at the University of Southern California. She writes about science fiction as written and read by radicals, feminists, queers and people of color; about utopia and futurity; and about sexual and racial formations in marginal geek cultures. Alexis has been a science fiction geek for at least as long as she can remember, a participant in online communities since she first got an internet connection, and obsessed with online fandom since she discovered Harry Potter slash in 2003.


Additional Files