Dr. Michelle Caswell (University of California Los Angeles) researches the ways that independent, identity-based memory organizations document, shape, and provide access to the histories of minoritized communities. On 11 February she hosts a lecture via Zoom in de webinar series To Imagine Otherwise: Future Archives.
With Michelle Caswell, Associate Professor of Archival Studies, Department of Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
In her talk “The Urgency of Feminist Standpoint Appraisal” Michelle Caswell presents a feminist approach in order to rethink both the process by which archival value is determined and the archivists’ role in that process:
Offering a sweeping critique of the history of archival theory in the dominant western tradition, this talk will introduce “feminist standpoint appraisal,” a methodology, epistemology, and political strategy for determining value in records.
Inverting dominant appraisal paradigms, feminist standpoint appraisal explicitly gives epistemological weight (thereby assigning value to) records created and preserved by—and activated in service to—oppressed communities.
As an epistemology, feminist standpoint appraisal shifts our thinking about the position of the archivist, from a purportedly objective “view from nowhere” (which in fact belies a dominant but unnamed position), towards a socially located, culturally situated agent who centers ways of being and knowing from the margins. In valuing the unique insights gleaned by people on the margins, feminist standpoint appraisal refuses the notion that archivists from oppressed communities must overcome their positionalities to meet professional demands for neutrality, but rather, values and leverages the insights gained from outsider status, viewing such attendant insights as an asset, rather than a detriment, to the archival endeavor.
Furthermore, feminist standpoint appraisal calls on archivists who inhabit dominant positions to acknowledge their oppressor standpoints and actively work to dismantle them.
Dr. Michelle Caswell is an Associate Professor of Archival Studies in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Caswell directs a team of students at UCLA’s Community Archives Lab (https://communityarchiveslab.ucla.edu/), which explores the ways that independent, identity-based memory organizations document, shape, and provide access to the histories of minoritized communities, with a particular emphasis on understanding their affective, political, and artistic impact. In 2008, together with Samip Mallick, Caswell co-founded the South Asian American Digital Archive (http://www.saada.org), an online repository that documents and provides access to the stories of South Asian Americans. She is the author of the books Urgent Archives: Enacting Liberatory Memory Work (Routledge Press, 2021) and Archiving the Unspeakable: Silence, Memory and the Photographic Record in Cambodia (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), as well as more than 40 peer-reviewed articles in critical archival studies.
3pm until 4.30pm
To imagine otherwise: future archives is an initiative of VAi, CEMPER, Letterenhuis, M HKA/CKV, in collaboration with FARO and meemoo.