On September 15, 2021, Dr. Michelle Caswell, Professor of Archival Studies in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), one of the most compelling voices in archival theory, shared a disruptive critique of dominant Western narratives about the aims and purposes of historical archives. Dr. Caswell contended that traditional archival practices are designed to be oppressive. She advocated for alternative methods and practices that members of minority communities can be used to create independent archives that build ties within communities and disrupt cycles of oppression. Archives cannot be neutral, Dr. Caswell argued. Instead of trying to make them so, Dr. Caswell urged us to focus on making archives catalysts of liberation.
This talk launched the new Participatory History and Archiving Project, with the Roberson Project, Centre College, Fisk University, Rollins College, University of Richmond, and Washington & Lee University. The project is funded by a diversity and inclusion grant from the Associated Colleges of the South and a Legacies of American Slavery grant from the Council of Independent Colleges.