Re/Marks on Power

Re/Marks on Power: How Annotation Inscribes History, Literacy, and Justice, my second book about annotation, is forthcoming from MIT Press and will be published in early 2025.

Here’s a brief description of the book:

Annotation—the seemingly simple act of marking a text—is often constrained as a marginal practice, prohibited in physical objects, and considered largely irrelevant to social and political concerns. What if annotation were reimagined as a critical and civic literacy that meaningfully inscribes public memory, struggles for justice, and social change? In Re/Marks on Power, education researcher Remi Kalir argues that enduring traces of annotation can be collectively read and (re)written so as to advance counternarratives and more just social futures. Kalir’s interdisciplinary approach examines annotation in archives and libraries, on walls and in books, atop maps and monuments, and along byways and all manner of margins to detail the relevance of “re/marks” that contest injustice and turn commonplace notes into consequential narratives.

With a series of vivid and wide-ranging cases, Kalir describes how groups of annotators make public re/marks of resistance and creativity, often with simple tools and accessible methods, to alter familiar texts, oppose hateful ideology, and broadcast solidarity and social activism. The book offers a fresh read and rewrite of annotation as Kalir considers how Harriet Tubman’s legacy is remembered and honored, how the US-Mexico border was defined and is restoried, how problematic public monuments are contested and reimagined, and how books featuring LGBTQIA+ topics are classified, censored, and celebrated. Re/Marks on Power honors the actions of annotators, whether eminent or anonymous, and highlights how material traces have mediated justice-oriented possibility. Throughout this book, Kalir makes visible a new social language of annotation that can be read across time and texts, written across margins and contexts, and that is collectively authored as critique and counternarrative.