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!!
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.
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 alwaysbelieved 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 email@example.com
On the second Monday in October, the US observes a day that is most commonly known as Columbus Day. It has been known to facilitate parades, festivities and celebrations of all kinds.
This day is said to commemorate Christopher Columbus “discovering America.” **AHEM** Discovering did you say? Yeah, I don’t think so. It is scientifically, physically impossible to discover a country that is already COMPLETELY FULL of people living in fully functional societies.
Hey there colonialism, how ya doing?
So in order to work against a landscape that praises Columbus Day and TOWARDS a world that celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day, today is the first of what I hope are a few eps this season with guests who specialize in working with archives/collections or media materials centered in and around Indigenous folx. This episode features the incredible Genevieve Weber and we talk about the amazing things that she is doing up in Canada with First Nations communities. She is a total rockstar. SRSLY, y’all.
Please join me as she and I talk in depth about her work and the commitment that her institution, the BC Archives, has made to try to heal some of the damage that settlers and colonialism in general has done to First Nations folx in Canada. Bio & links are below the podcast link!
Genevieve Weber is an Archivist with the BC Archives, part of the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, Canada. She completed a Master of Archival Studies (MAS) degree at the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a concentration in First Nations recordkeeping and archives. Since then she has worked in a number of Indigenous communities in BC, including the Nisga’a Nation and the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations, and at MOA (the Museum of Anthropology at UBC). She has been with the BC Archives for the past two years. Helping community members access their cultural heritage in the archives is one of her favourite parts of her job.
I wanted to call this episode “Jordan Hale: Badassery In Action” but that doesn’t really explain what they do or who they are except that they are exactly that- a total badass.
I would not be the same person if I didn’t know Jordan. This episode starts off with me laughing and I am so glad that it does because Jordan brings me joy. I cannot imagine anyone meeting Jordan and not being folded into the joyful, strong and brilliant person that they are and continue to be.
We agree and disagree, they teach me so many things. Speaking to Jordan on this podcast and listening to them tell me about their work, I learned so many things that made me fall even more in love with archiving, preservation and the kickass people who make up this community. I’m all starry-eyed for Jordan Hale and not just because we have great cat conversations (although that’s a big plus cuz their cats are like majorly adorable mmkay?).
Here is Jordan’s Bio:
Jordan Hale is a landscape geographer and cat friend who is presently the Digital Repositories Librarian at the University of Waterloo. Their dream is to work as a media archivist for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Here are some of the amazing things that they have written, some of which we discussed on the podcast:
I couldn’t think of a more powerful and amazing guest than the talented and inspirational Courtney Dean. Doing this episode with her was just plain fun and reminded me of all the reasons that I got into this world: to have colleagues like this. People who will stand by you and laugh with you, speak your language, protest with you and party with you.
That’s what this show, ultimately is about. I hope that during the next few weeks while I am on a mini-hiatus you can go back and listen to past episodes and check out all the other guests who TRULY fulfill the same function in this landscape that this week’s guest does.
Of significant importance, I hope that everyone who listens to this signs the letter/petition included in Courtney’s links. The contract issues we discuss are not business practices exclusive to UCLA and they need to stop. Archival workers, librarians, we are important. We are growing and radicalizing as a field, no longer allowing the rotting structures of the past to rule. and bringing our own beautiful identities to the table and critical lived experiences to our work. We need visibility, job security, unions and everything that Courtney and the inspirational team behind this letter are calling for. Sign it. You don’t have to work or even know a librarian or archivist to sign. Just sign it “caring citizen.” 🙂
Anyways, I love all of you who have been supporting this show and my guests. THANK YOU FOR THAT. I’ll be back in a bit with more amazing people rocking this space.
For now, here is Courtney’s bio and the amazinglinks to her other highly recommended archives and materials. I will second/third/infinity all of them as well. COURTNEY RULES!!!
Courtney Dean is the Head of the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT) in UCLA Library Special Collections, where she provides hands-on training in archival methodology to graduate students from a variety of academic backgrounds, and facilitates creative engagement with special collections materials. Prior to UCLA she worked as a Project Archivist at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In 2014 she co-founded the Los Angeles Archivists Collective (LAAC), a community-driven local professional organization with a focus on students and new professionals. She is an active member of the Society of California Archivists and Society of American Archivists, where she is currently the Issues & Advocacy Section’s Vice-Chair. She earned her MLIS from UCLA in 2013.