“I’ll give you a topic: the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. Discuss.” Bonus points if you know this SNL skit! Image via Vanity Fair
While we work up to the next themed post here on Reading Archivists, this seems like a good time to talk amongst ourselves. I’ll give you a (very broad) topic: what we’re reading, watching, or listening to that has implications for the archives field, archivists as individual professionals, and even the archival canon.
Personally, I recently attended a compelling panel at my place of work about the religious, political, and ecological implications of Laudato Si, the Pope’s recent writing on climate change. The panelists’ remarks have pushed me to think about what archivists can learn from the document. One of the panelists pointed out that in Laudato Si, Pope Francis providing inspiration for people around the world to take up the cause of climate change; items up to us to find “cures.”
I’ve been thinking about this in two ways:
1. I’ve been more closely following the work of ProjectARCC. Climate change affects collection care as well as our collecting itself. ProjectARCC is split up into four committees:
– Protect, aimed at educating archivists about environmental protections, both preparing for disaster and responding to disasters
– Reduce, which examines strategies for reducing our professional carbon and ecological footprints
– Preserve, working to document the work of climate scientists and activists for future use
– Elevate, using relevant collections to “improve public awareness and understanding of climate change”
ProjectARCC’s work is important in part because it provides a model for multi-pronged approach to effecting real change in and outside the archives. We can think about using the model in our repositories, to capture materials on climate change as well as on other subjects. Which leads to point two…
2. What other issues in the field need a “call to inspiration”? Kathleen Roe’s “Year of Living Dangerously” worked to galvanize outreach, though SAA’s work under her leadership was more directive than Laudato Si or ProjectARCC. I would argue that diversity and inclusivity throughout our profession, particularly in our collections and our colleagues, is another such issue that could benefit from our focus, although work will need to be more extensive and future-thinking than one piece of writing or one year of effort. We’ve already touched on this in the past here on RA, looking at Jimerson’s 2005 presidential address “Embracing the Power of Archives,” and Elizabeth Adkins’ 2007 address, “Our Journey Toward Diversity — and a Call to (More) Action.”
A more recent and non-presidential look at diversity in the field is courtesy of the 2011 article, “Educating for the Archival Multiverse.” (The American Archivist: 2011 Spring/Summer, Vol. 74, No. 1, pp. 69-101. DOI) The article concludes with an eight-objective model for pluralizing archival education, many of which work in concert. The article sketches out that relationship, but I wish it were made more obvious throughout the article. But the recommendation to encourage multidisciplinarity in the field may in turn foster pluralized doctoral education, which in turn would help to open up archival theory and practice to viewpoints outside the dominant norm and encourage a more pluralized student body. Similarly, if archives programs promote service learning, community engagement may be strengthened; again, leading to less narrow archival theory and practice and a more pluralized student body.
So, what’s on your mind? What do you think of the articles above? What should we join you in reading, listening, and/or watching?