Marika Cifor on Viral Cultures

Marika Cifor reads from her forthcoming book, Viral Cultures: Activist Archiving in the Age of AIDS

Tuesday, November 30, 2021
1pm ET, via Zoom

Dr. Marika Cifor is Assistant Professor in the Information School at the University of Washington. Viral Cultures: Activist Archiving in the Age of AIDSwill be published by University of Minnesota Press in 2022.

Serving as a vital supplement to the existing scholarship on AIDS activism of the 1980s and 1990s, Viral Cultures is the first book to critically examine the archives that have helped preserve and create the legacy of those radical activities. Marika Cifor charts the efforts activists, archivists, and curators have made to document the work of AIDS activism in the United States and the infrastructure developed to maintain it, safeguarding the material for future generations to remember these social movements and to revitalize the epidemic’s past in order to remake AIDS’ present and future. 

Drawing on large institutional archives such as the New York Public Library, as well as those developed by small, community-based organizations, this work of archival ethnography details how contemporary activists, artists, and curators utilize these records to build upon the cultural legacy of AIDS activism to challenge the conditions of injustice that continue to undergird current AIDS crises. Cifor analyzes the various power structures through which these archives are mediated, demonstrating how ideology shapes the nature of archival material and how it is accessed and used. Positioning vital nostalgia as both a critical faculty and a generative practice, it explores the act of saving this activist past and reanimating it in the digital age. While many books, popular films, and major exhibitions have contributed to a necessary awareness of HIV and AIDS activism, Viral Cultures provides a crucial missing link by highlighting the powerful role of archives in making those cultural moments possible.

Register in advance for this reading:    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Jennifer Douglas on Friendship and Compassion in Research

Friday October 15th, 1:00pm ET.

Dr. Jennifer Douglas is Assistant Professor in the University of British Columbia’s iSchool.

In this reading, Jennifer will focus on ethical questions related to doing research in archival studies. The article she will read from will be published in an upcoming special issue of Australian Feminist Studies on feminist research ethics. In her article, Jennifer reflects on efforts to centre friendship and compassion in research that is highly personal and intimate, as well as on the ways that friendship and compassion, as research values, can sit in tension with more procedural ethics approval processes, as for example with university research ethics boards. Drawing on examples from research – and friendships – in online support communities, with archival donors, and with archives creators, Jennifer will advocate for research from the heart. 
Register in advance for this meeting: registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Geoffrey Yeo on Records in Early Societies

Geoffrey Yeo reads from Record-Making and Record-Keeping in Early Societies 
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
1pm ET / 6pm BST via Zoom

Geoffrey Yeo, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Information Studies at University College London, will read from his new book, Record-Making and Record-Keeping in Early Societies, published by Routledge.

Record-Making and Record-Keeping in Early Societies examines the beginnings of human recording practices and provides a survey of early record-making and record-keeping in societies across the world. It investigates the ways in which human activities were recorded in different settings using different methods and technologies. Research into early recording practices has advanced considerably in recent decades, and the book draws on recent scholarship in archaeology and anthropology, as well as recent thinking in archival science.  Based on analysis of literature from a wide range of disciplines, Record-Making and Record-Keeping in Early Societies offers a distinctive perspective on early archives. It aims, not merely to describe the variety of recording methods and practices used in different societies at different times, but also to engage with a range of questions about the contexts in which those practices arose and the ways in which we might understand and interpret them.

The reading will be followed by a discussion.

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Michelle Caswell on Urgent Archives

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
12 noon ET, via Zoom

Dr. Michelle Caswell, who is an Associate Professor in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the co-founder of the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA). Michelle will read from her forthcoming book, Urgent Archives: Enacting Liberatory Memory Work, published by Routledge.

Urgent Archives argues that archivists can and should do more to disrupt white supremacy and hetero-patriarchy beyond the standard liberal archival solutions of more diverse collecting and more inclusive description. Grounded in the emerging field of critical archival studies, this book uncovers how dominant western archival theories and practices are oppressive by design, while looking toward the radical politics of community archives to envision new liberatory theories and practices. Based on more than a decade of ethnography at community archives sites including SAADA, the book explores how members of minoritized communities activate records to build solidarities across and within communities, trouble linear progress narratives, and disrupt cycles of oppression. The book explores the temporal, representational, and material aspects of liberatory memory work, arguing that archival disruptions in time and space should be neither about the past nor the future, but about the liberatory affects and effects of memory work in the present.

The reading will be followed by a discussion moderated by Dr. Johnathan Thayer, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, Queens College CUNY.

Registration for this meeting is now closed, but a video of the reading will be made available on the Australian Society of Archivists’ YouTube channel.


Forget Chaterera-Zambuko on Rhodesian Army Records

April 14, 2021
On Zoom

Dr. Forget Chaterera-Zambuko, Post-doctoral Fellow at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, will read from her forthcoming book chapter, “NgaadzokePlease: A Dare / Inkundla for the Rhodesian Army Records.” This work uses ideas of communal listening in traditional Zimbabwean jurisprudence to consider the affects of archival displacement from Zimbabwe to the United Kingdom. Providing a space for the responses of archivists to this ongoing dispossession, the chapter echoes the calls to radical empathy now being made in Western archival discourse. The chapter will appear in a volume called Disputed Archival Heritage, to be published by Routledge. The reading will be followed by a discussion moderated by Kylie Goetz.


Victoria Lemieux on Searching for Trust

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
11am ET, via Zoom

Dr. Victoria Lemieux, Associate Professor of Archival Science in the School of Information at the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Lemieux will read excerpts from her forthcoming monograph, Searching for Trust: Blockchain technology in an age of disinformation.

Searching for Trust explores the intersectionality of trust, disinformation and blockchain technology in an age of growing institutional and epistemic mistrust. It asks questions such as what is trust? What is truth? And, what do trust and truth have to do with a cryptocurrency that many associate with hackers and criminality.

Building upon the authors’ previous work exploring blockchains and other types of distributed ledgers through an archival theoretic lens. this book argues for an archival understanding of the formation of societal trusting relations. It further explores how the rise of computational information processing has gradually supplanted traditional record keeping, putting at risk a centuries old tradition of the “moral defence of the record” and supplanting it with a dominant ethos of information processing efficiency. Lemieux argues that this focus on information processing efficiency over the defence of records against manipulation and corruption (the ancient task of the record keeper) has contributed to a diminution of the trustworthiness of information and a rise of disinformation, with attendant destabilization of the epistemic trust fabric of societies. Lemieux asks readers to consider the potential and limitations of blockchains, as the technological embodiment of the moral defence of the record, to restore societal trust in an age of disinformation.

Lemieux is the founder and co-lead of Blockchain@UBC, a multidisciplinary research and education cluster focused on blockchain and distributed ledger technology, a Sauder School of Business Distinguished Scholar, and an Affiliate of the Institute of Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems at the University of British Columbia. She is also an award winning researcher, author, and records, archival and cybersecurity professional. 
The reading will be followed by a discussion moderated by Annie Tummino, Head of Special Collections and Archives, Queens College CUNY.

Register in advance for this meeting:


Verne Harris on Ghosts of Archive

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021
11am Eastern, via Zoom

Verne Harris, adjunct professor at the Nelson Mandela University, will read from his recently published monograph Ghosts of Archive: Deconstructive Intersectionality and Praxis

Ghosts of Archive draws on the discourses of deconstruction, intersectionality and archetypal psychology to mount an argument that archive is fundamentally and structurally spectral and that the work of archive is justice.

Drawing on more than 20 years of the author’s research on deconstruction and archive, the book posits archive as an essential resource for social justice activism and as a source, or location, of soul for individuals and communities. Through explorations of what Jacques Derrida termed ‘hauntology’, Harris invites a listening to the call for justice in conceptual spaces that are non-disciplinary. He argues that archive is both constructed in relation to and beset by ghosts – ghosts of the living, of the dead and of those not yet born – and that attention should be paid to them. Establishing a unique nexus between a deconstructive intersectionality and traditions of ‘memory for justice’ in struggles against oppression from South Africa and elsewhere, the book makes a case for a deconstructive praxis in today’s archive.

Verne Harris is an adjunct professor at the Nelson Mandela University. He served in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and was Nelson Mandela’s archivist between 2004 and 2013.

The reading will be followed by a discussion moderated by Obden Mondesir, Outreach Archivist and Adjunct Lecturer at Queens College, CUNY and Oral Historian at the Weeksville Heritage Center. 


Jamie A. Lee on Producing the Archival Body

Thursday November 19, 2020

4:00pm EST, via Zoom

Dr. Jamie A. Lee, Assistant Professor of Digital Culture, Information, and Society in the School of Information at the University of Arizona.

Producing the Archival Body draws on theoretical and practical research conducted within US and Canadian archives, along with critical and cultural theory, to examine the everyday lived experiences of archivists and records creators that are often overlooked during archival and media production.

Expanding on the author’s previous work, which engaged archival and queer theories to develop the Queer/ed Archival Methodology that intervenes in traditional archival practices, the book invites readers interested in humanistic inquiry to re-consider how archives are defined, understood, deployed, and accessed to produce subjects. Arguing that archives and bodies are mutually constitutive and developing a keen focus on the body and embodiment alongside archival theory, the author introduces new understandings of archival bodies. Contributing to recent disciplinary moves that offer a more transdisciplinary emphasis, Lee interrogates how power circulates and is deployed in archival contexts in order to build critical understandings of how deeply archives influence and shape the production of knowledges and human subjectivities.

Lee directs the Arizona Queer Archives, the Digital Storytelling & Oral History Lab, and co-directs the Climate Alliance Mapping Project. They are an award-winning social justice documentary filmmaker, archivist, and scholar committed to decolonizing methodologies and asset-driven approaches to community participatory projects that are produced with communities in ways that will be relevant and beneficial.

The reading will be followed by a discussion moderated by Jeanie Pai.