Sunrise run in Cleveland to start the conference day off right.
Last week was the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists in Cleveland. This was my first SAA experience. It was overall good, but I really do not love conferences that consist of only concurrent sessions. So much FOMO, it’s not even right. But I managed to see several good sessions over the three days I was in Cleveland. The following highlight a few of the sessions I attended and some tweets.
One of the plenary speakers was Daniel Horowitz Garcia from StoryCorps. He gave a wonderful and moving talk about the power of the stories and diverse voices that archives can preserve and share. The theme of the talk reminded me of something the plenary speaker at NEA 2015 said — “focus on what is made possible by the work.” Rather than talking endlessly about tasks, rules and tools, archivists need to talk most about what is made possible by the work we do.
Anderson, Kimberly. 2013. “The Footprint and the Stepping Foot: Archival Records, Evidence, and Time.” Archival Science, 13:4, p. 349-371. DOI: 10.1007/s10502-012-9193-2
If archivists can learn to recognize records in all their forms, perhaps archivists can stop trying to acquire or create records that can be separated from their community of origin. If we move towards the citizen or community archivist model, the archives becomes a clearinghouse of sorts in which seekers are referred to the community for access, rather than capturing or translating records for use in the archives. P. 361
There is so much going on in this article! I recommend taking some time to read the full article if it’s of interest to you. Here goes my attempt at summarizing the article as well as my take-aways:
This article proposes a redefinition of what constitutes an archival record. By bringing into focus non-Western modes of thinking on concepts of time, record keeping, and relationships between creator/expert and record, Anderson questions the inclusiveness of archival collections (in the United States) and calls for archivists to acknowledge the need to begin identifying records without imposing Western concepts of ‘recordness’ on dynamic practices of recordkeeping. An example of a dynamic practice of recordkeeping would be dance or ritual (Anderson refers to this as kinetic or oral records, see p. 364). Continue reading