Michelle Caswell: Creating Archives, Making Space & Activating Records of the Now

I first met Dr. Michelle Caswell when I was at UCLA finishing my degree and I already heard how amazing she was back then.

Years later, I was lucky enough to finally get to meet Jarrett Drake in person because he was here in Los Angeles for a conference that (I think) Michelle was running and we talked a little bit about how Michelle’s perspective and work was to the things that we believed and fought for in the archiving world.

Fast forward to now.

The more things change the more they stay the same. Jarrett, Michelle and I are all still working for the same things just maybe not within the same formats or institutions and (obvs) there are many reasons for that as my podcast has shown.

I feel so grateful to have been able to sit down with Dr. Caswell and talk with her about what she does and has been doing because she is TRULY INCREDIBLE. The work that she does and the thinking that she pursues within the archives and memory field is larger than the archives and library/information world. She’s the best kind of academic: the kind who goes for access and important content over fanciness. It’s not that her work isn’t smart- it’s smart as hell!

But the fact that she produces and discusses topics and material that we can all get together on? That’s my jam!

Anyways, here’s our conversation and the bio and links are below as usual.

PLEASE check out those links!!! They are AMAZING!!

BIO: 

Michelle Caswell, PhD, is Associate Professor of Archival Studies in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where she directs the UCLA Community Archives Lab.
She is the co-founder of the South Asian American Digital Archive, an online repository that documents and provides access to the
stories of South Asian Americans. She is also the author of the book Archiving the Unspeakable: Silence, Memory and the Photographic Record in Cambodia (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), as well as more than three dozen peer-reviewed articles on archives, memory, and communities.

Info on the event at UCLA on 2/23 https://www.saada.org/ucla

Film mentioned in the podcast: “Lavaan” by Zain Alam https://www.saada.org/wherewebelong/lavaan 
Archivists Against:
http://www.archivistsagainst.org/
Michelle Caswell:
https://michellecaswell.org/

Archivist’s Alley Goes to AMIA 2018, Pt 3: Bob Curtis-Johnson, Alaska’s Moving Image Treasures and Strong Indigenous Voices

Getting to meet and chat with Bob Curtis-Johnson was super cool. I probably could’ve hung out with him for hours. To be honest, even emailing with Bob is awesome- I get to find out whether he’s spotted polar bears or not and what the temperature and light situation is. Which is like…so different from my life here in LA. Plus? I know from talking and hanging out with him at this past AMIA that he’s handling all that AND contributing in a huge way to the archives and preservation world so…my mind just sorta goes WOAH !!!!!
I don’t know how I never met Bob before this past AMIA. We must’ve been dancing around the same committees and people for the last 8 years and just never connected. I am just so happy that we were able to do that here.

His company, Summit Day Media, is based out of Anchorage and that was so exciting to me (it still is)! I was so thrilled to be able to talk to him about the amazing work that he accomplishes regularly and the insane lengths that he and his colleagues go to really make a difference in people’s lives and to work with communities to help preserve their histories.

I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I loved having it. Bob and the people he works with are all super rockstars. Huge fan of Alaska, now. Big fan. <3

This time we have some REALLY incredible photos from Bob so as usual, just after the link for the podcast download, don’t forget to check out his bio and these amazing pics & the information. Just great!!!

Bio:

Bob Curtis-Johnson is the owner and principal consultant for SummitDay LLC located in Anchorage Alaska, specializing in audiovisual media preservation for clients that include corporations, museums and archives in eight U.S. states. SummitDay has over a decade of experience in mass digitization project management, digital media management, storage environment assessment, a/v media assessment, and development of preservation and disaster plans. Bob has also produced, directed or edited dozens of documentaries, commercials, and artistic and sponsored films for National Geographic Explorer, Black Entertainment Television, The Discovery Channel, PBS and othersL

Links: 
http://summitdaymedia.com

https://fm.kuac.org/post/drums-winter-interview

 


This is a shot of SummitDay staff Mike R. Martz and Keenan Troll performing quality control verification on preservation files (2018).

Picture of Bob Curtis-Johnson and his friend Anagi (pronounced “ON-a-way”) Whitlam Adams (now deceased), taken in Utqiagvik (known at that time as Barrow), Alaska, at a Nalukataq whaling celebration. Bob notes that, “Anagi was an artist and carver, former whaling captain, and a film donor.”

This is a 2009 photo of staff and family members from the Inupiaq Heritage Center in Utqiagvik, at the summer whaling celebration. Chris Danner (in the sunglasses) was part of the staff and also a member of a successful whaling crew that season. The Inupiaq have lived and whaled in this region for 10,000 years, and hunting is a deeply important part of their culture as well as a crucial component of their food security.

UKSUUM CAUYAI is a film of Yup’ik values and culture and is of a different group than the Inupiaq (people pictured above). This is the film mentioned in the podcast.

Archivist’s Alley Goes to AMIA 2018, Pt 2- KBOO Radio, Radical Audio Culture & the Community Archiving Workshop

Meeting and getting to hang out with Marti and Erin was definitely one of my highlights of AMIA in Portland this year.

While their collection was an audio collection (and this is unusual for AMIA- usually the collection that the Community Archiving Workshop selects each year is a moving image collection) the KBOO archive is incredibly worthy of our preservation and of any kind of assistance that could be given or any volunteer efforts towards their ultimate survival.

One of the things that has remained with me since our conversation is how adamant they were about KBOO as an independent institution and yet how deeply rooted in the community and its history. But not the history that is surface-level. It goes way deeper. KBOO and its activities and participants are tied into what seems to be a kind of underground Portland history.

The world that is reflected by the programming at KBOO is not quite the Hip Voodoo Donuts landscape that Portland has become known for. What I loved about this was that the work that Marti & Erin told me about (and what the Community Archiving Workshop was to be helping them preserve during the conference) was chock full of queer voices, activists, POC and turned-on locals participating in a homegrown organization bent on creating a positive audio hub for family, friends and strangers in this northwest area. I dug it!!!

As usual, the bios for my amazing guests (including some SUPER GREAT LINKS are right under the podcast link.

Erin Yanke is the Program Director at KBOO Community Radio where she is also works on the training program, on podcasting, and with the Youth Collective. She is also a documentarian, working with audio, print, and video. Recent projects include the 300 page art book Dead Moon, First 100 Days event series Educate, Agitate, and OrganizeBright Spark a podcast about harm reduction, and the film Arresting Power: Resisting Police Violence in Portland, Oregon.   

Marti Clemmons is the Archivist at KBOO Community Radio.  For six years, she has been a library technician at Portland State University Special Collections and University Archives where she continues to process, digitize and make Portland history accessible to the public.  
She is interested in using archives as a place for Queer activism.

LINKS:

General KBOO https://kboo.fm/

50th anniversary historical interviews https://www.50yearsofkboo.fm/kboo-stories-project

Some favorite programs
From the  Grassroots https://kboo.fm/program/grassroots

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Kush https://kboo.fm/program/kabhi-khushi-kabhie-kush
Rose City Native Radio https://kboo.fm/program/rose-city-native-radio

Threshold Shift https://kboo.fm/program/threshold-shift
The Confessional https://kboo.fm/program/confessional

Archivist’s Alley Goes to AMIA 2018- Claire Fox: Queer Community, Student-ing, and Navigating the Future

This year’s AMIA conference was wonderful. I personally feel like losing my voice to a whisper meant it was extra successful. I spent the entire time focusing on conversations about how to rearrange our field to genuinely reflect the community that it is made of and how to respect/pay respect to those of us who work tirelessly to make memory institutions less structured towards the elite and privileged. It was terrifically exciting! 
For a small taste, if you haven’t checked out the panel I was lucky enough to moderate, it can be found right here.

Spoiler alert: it’s mid-December & I’m still recovering 😀

One of the things I made sure to do while there is record a few podcast episodes with people live at the conference. So this conversation with Claire Fox is the first of a 3-part-series, you might say.  I am particularly enamored of this ep because we got into the intricacies of labor, queerness, being a student, and aspects of the AMIA Conference. I loved being able to talk about student things. THEY ARE SO IMPORTANT.

As usual, the episode is here and the guest’s links and bio are below.

But I want to include Claire’s statement first. It is 100% why I love doing this podcast and knowing that it has this effect on my colleagues & friends that are my guests makes me ecstatic:

AMIA was a transformative experience for me as a newcomer to the profession, and recording this episode similarly changed something within me. While I’ve talked with my peers and instructors about archival practice, and I’ve spoken about myself personally in different contexts, I don’t think I’d ever had anyone ask me about my experience as an archivist.  Many of the things I said during this episode had only existed in my head before. Articulating them verbally made me instinctively challenge my own ideas. It made me feel a little vulnerable. If you haven’t spoken out loud about your experience as an archivist — preferably with someone recording you — I absolutely recommend it!

Claire Fox is a first-year student in the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation (MIAP) program at NYU. She worked a handful of archival gigs prior to her time at MIAP, but you may know her best from serving you coffee, beer, or pizza in Seattle, Los Angeles, or New York. Lately, she’s been working on web archiving projects at the New Museum, and she looks forward to working on the database for the Queer Cinema Index at IndieCollect in the coming months.

BIO:
Claire Fox is a first-year student in the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation (MIAP) program at NYU. She worked a handful of archival gigs prior to her time at MIAP, but you may know her best from serving you coffee, beer, or pizza in Seattle, Los Angeles, or New York. Lately, she’s been working on web archiving projects at the New Museum, and she looks forward to working on the database for the Queer Cinema Index at IndieCollect in the coming months.

Links:
Twitter: @clairefox (https://twitter.com/clairefox)
Queer Cinema Index: https://indiecollect.org/initiatives_queer_cinema.shtml

Archives & Intersectionality: Linking the Personal to the Professional–Panel from AMIA 2018, Portland, OR

The panel that I presented this year at the annual AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists) Conference in Portland, Or. As a longtime member, I have been trying to get a panel accepted for many years but social justice and moving image archives have not always…been seen as congruent. I have always always always believed that you cannot discuss one without the other. They are the reel to the film. The lens to the projector. The 1 to the 0 (in digital).

This year I was HONORED to have some of the most talented and amazing colleagues and friends I know come to speak with me on the most meaningful and important issues within our community: issues of race, gender, sexuality, personal identity, and power and how these have influenced their work, their lives and their experiences as moving image archivists. Two of my panelists you may have met previously if you are a regular Archivist’s Alley listener: Brendan Lucas is the Outfest Legacy Project Manager and you would have heard him on my Outfest Legacy Project Managers episode!  Erica Lopez is continually referred to on this show due to her amazing work with the Fuentes Collection and discussion on Latinx home movies as we discuss here. Ina Archer is INCREDIBLY BUSY so I haven’t gotten her on the show, but it will happen! But she is an incredible writer, artist and is now a media conservator at The Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC). You can check her out here.

Please forgive me on the video quality. It was recorded off my laptop because my actual camera decided it didn’t want to play nice. But you can hear everything except the young woman’s question at the very end (apologies) who was asking about some international issues and terms like diversity and inclusion and…I don’t think that my response was very good. I spoke with her afterwards and we sorted things out. I feel a little awkward about that! Thanks to Brendan for taking the mic and repeating the other announcement during the short Q&A bit.

I hope you enjoy and if you have any questions or would like to follow up on this, plan a panel with me or discussion on this kind of conversation with me (I already have some in my head) or would like to get in touch with my guests to tell them how amazing they are…feel free to contact me at archivistsalley@gmail.com