In my PhD research, I ask the question: For whom do we preserve and at what (environmental) costs? Our personal digital archives are growing with every picture, text message or post we create, save and or share. This is in part due to our everyday technologies profiting from the capitalist logic of saving by default. But what if there is a limit to this growth? Our world is in a global ecological crisis and the material reality of the digital are data centers, sub-sea cables and server farms (just to name a few). Data creation, storage and sharing extract natural resources and pollute our environment. From a critical data studies perspective, I am questioning who determines the future of our personal digital pasts and explore more sustainable alternatives by shifting the focus to from save to delete: do we really need to preserve everything?

I want to answer these questions from an individual and institutional perspective. This means I'm first engaging in ethnographic fieldwork and participatory action research with a grassroots volunteer community of people experiencing (temporary) socioeconomic hardship. Second, I will be engaging in site visits and ethnographic interviews with professionals in cultural institutions and semi-private organizations.
Together with the individual participants, memory institutions and a theater collective, these insights will be materialized through co-creative research methods in an interactive experience accessible to a wider audience.

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