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- 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

Anna St. Onge: Archival Labor, Community Content & Refocusing the Archival Narrative

Speaking to Anna was an absolute joy. We covered topics as diverse as Nice White Lady-ism to Open Source journal to language translation in cataloging. We also spoke at length about the challenges of getting funding when you’re not doing the kind of work that Big Money people care about and why it’s critically important to keep doing the work that Big Money people don’t seem to care about.

Anna is doing incredible work at York University and is a key figure of positive change, calling for high levels of care and attention for indigenous Canadian communities that York works with and looking to make certain  that the labor within her scope is fair and just. Her work and clear and ethical structure of archival outreach and development is one that I hope to see reflected in more archival organizations, especially in the United States. AND SOON. Please enjoy.

As usual, bio and links are below the episode link! I recommend you check them out!!


Bio:

Anna St.Onge is an archivist who is currently Director of Digital Scholarship Infrastructure at York University Libraries. She holds a B.A. in History and Celtic Studies from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Information Studies degree from the University of Toronto with a specialization in Archival Studies and Book History & Print Culture. She was previously a certified Nice White LadyTM but is working hard to undo decades of social programming.

Links:

The Portuguese Canadian History Project

 

Toronto Telegram Newspaper Photograph Collection, link to finding aid: 

 

York University Libraries bots (randomly posts from our DAM which is made up predominantly of scanned photographic negatives of the Toronto Telegram – created by my colleague Nick Ruest) –

YUDL bot (general holdings)

YUDL cat

YUDL dog

 

Home Made Visible – a project of the Regent Park Film Festival:

Ashley Blewer: Digital Archiving, Open Source Work & Systems of Strength

My friend and colleague Ashley Blewer is one of the most inspirational people I know. She makes hard things seem simple because she enjoys them so much. She has this brilliant gift of being talented at digital preservation and moving image archiving yet not coming off as intimidating or pretentious. She always seems willing to answer questions you might have and goes out of her way not to make you feel stupid for asking.  Ashley has spent countless hours working on projects that provide educational access to folks who might want to learn about moving image archiving but may not have the funds to do so.

I am incredibly proud to know this fabulous human being, count her as one of my friends and get to watch her be the mighty rock star that she is!!!

Please enjoy our conversation and check out the links and the bio just underneath here. Please note that this episode was recorded in advance so forgive date discrepancies

Bio:

Ashley works as at Artefactual Systems as their AV Preservation Specialist, primarily on the Archivematica project. She specializes in time-based media preservation, digital repository management, infrastructure/community building, computer-to-human interpretation, and teaching technical concepts. She is an active contributor to MediaArea’s MediaConch, a open source digital video file conformance checker software project, and Bay Area Video Coalition’s QCTools, an open source digitized video analysis software project. She holds Master of Library and Information Science (Archives) and Bachelor of Arts (Graphic Design) degrees from the University of South Carolina.

The absolutely amazing Beyoncé articles that Ashley wrote that we discussed:

https://bits.ashleyblewer.com/blog/2016/04/29/lemonade/

https://bits.ashleyblewer.com/blog/2016/02/09/format-ion-video-playback-errors-in-beyonces-latest-music-video/

The other OMGWTFBBQ mindblowing piece that she wrote on the recent Netflix doc series, Wild Wild Country:

https://bits.ashleyblewer.com/blog/2018/04/01/wild-wild-country-and-the-magnetic-media-crisis/

MOAR FUN ASHLEY LINKS!!!:

avpres-training resource https://training.ashleyblewer.com/