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Post-Custodial Methods in Archival Practice

Presentation covered a general overview of Post-Custodialism as it is applied in the archival field. Presentation discussed initial framing of the Post-Custodial practices as well as local application of the concept in a Latin American context. Presenter also shared a few takeaways from the positive potential opportunities of applying Post-Custodial methods for archival projects.

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Post-Custodial Methods in Archival Practice

  1. 1. Post-Custodial Methods in Archival Practice A DISCUSSION WITH ITZA CARBAJAL Access and Care of Indigenous Cultural Knowledge Course | November 5, 2018
  2. 2. hello! I’m Itza Carbajal 2017 UT iSchool graduate. Now the Latin American Metadata Librarian for LLILAS Benson Twitter: @archiviststan Website: www.itzacarbajal.com
  3. 3. 1. Defining Post-Custodialism
  4. 4. Original Framework Gerald Ham, 1981 ● Late 20th century revolution in information processing is inexorably changing the world and the work of archivists. ● These changes Ham argued pushes archivists into a new period he called post-custodial archival history. ● Earlier period meant record quantities were relatively small; the technology of records creation, storage, and retrieval fairly simple; and archivists assumed a passive role in shaping the documentary record. ● Previous custodial ethos made archivists excessively proprietary toward archival holdings ● New period brings many changes including computer processing of information allowed people to collect, preserve, and manipulate vast quantities of social and economic data. ● Now archivists can make a large portion of their holdings as available as printed books, but this requires changes in outmoded ideas about where and by whom resources are used.
  5. 5. Post-Custodialism in a International Context Latin America During a project called the HRDI, collaborating partners (UTL/LLILAs Benson) had to confront many atypical practical acquisition and access conditions (distance, ethical considerations, evolving nature of records). Also a result of traditional repositories trying to preserve living records (meaning those still in use by creators) Caribbean Jeannette Bastian studies the definition of custodialism in the case study of the records of a former Danish colony now known as the United States Virgin Islands. ● Both governmental entities split and retrieve records leaving no physical onsite records for Virgin Islanders This study focused more on the aspect of how managing the records also means managing access to the records.
  6. 6. Some Post-Custodialism Principles ● Creators must take on record manager roles ● Decentralization of holdings ● Utilize the benefits of modern technology to provide easy and centralized access ● Coherent and comprehensive acquisition program ● Better use of limited resources available for archival work ● Encourage inter-institutional cooperation ● Archival service center providing traditional services to smaller institutions such as purchasing supplies, providing records survey, etc. ● Provide needed short- term vocational assistance as well as consultations on project planning and administration ● (re)balances power between.. colonizer/colonized, global South/Global North, repository/creator ● (re)defines archival practice and expectations between different parties ● (re)locates the archival enterprise responsibilities ● Diversify and democratize the historical record.
  7. 7. “ While many of LLILAS Benson’s digital archival projects are described as Post-Custodial or at times noncustodial, the actual Post-Custodial approaches differ Slightly from project to project. - Itza Carbajal
  8. 8. 2. LLILAS Benson Post Custodial Projects
  9. 9. Latin American Digital Initiatives (LADI) History Began with a planning grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon for the project “Post-Custodial Archival Development and Digital Scholarship: Learning from Latin America” ● partners in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua Continues today with a 2017 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant award allowing LLILAS Benson to continue the development of the institution’s Latin American Post-Custodial work and implementation. ● partners in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico Scope A collaboration to preserve and provide access to unique archival documentation from Latin America, with an emphasis on collections documenting human rights, race, ethnicity, and social exclusion in the region. Links LLILAS Benson website: www.ladi.lib.utexas.edu
  10. 10. 2018 Post-Custodial Team at LLILAS Benson Senior Software Developer/Analyst Post-Custodial Archivist / Head of Digital Initiatives Latin American Metadata Librarian Digital Processing Archivist
  11. 11. LADI Post-Custodial Partners CIRMA Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica Guatemala CIDCA Centro de Investigación y Documentación de la Costa Atlántica Bluefields, Nicaragua MUPI El Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen El Salvador Fondo Real de Cholula Tribunal Superior de Justicia del Estado de Puebla Mexico PCN Proceso de Comunidades Negras Colombia ISA/EAACONE Instituto Socioambiental Equipe de Articulação e Assessoria às Comunidades Negras do Vale do Ribeira Brazil
  12. 12. Human Rights Documentation Project (HRDI) History Initial brainstorming occured in at a 2007 conference titled “Human Rights Archives and Documentation: Meeting the Needs of Research, Teaching, Advocacy, and Social Justice” co-sponsored by UT Libraries, Center for Research Libraries, and Columbia University. First proposed project was a collaboration with Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Rwanda with final project launched in 2008. Scope HRDI is committed to the long-term preservation of fragile and vulnerable records of human rights struggles worldwide, the promotion and secure usage of human rights archival materials, and the advancement of human rights research and advocacy around the world. Links LLILAS Benson HRDI website: http://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/hrdi
  13. 13. Human Rights Documentation Project Partners Genocide Archive of Rwanda Rwanda A digital archive that aggregates digital copies of materials related to the Genocide for educational and research purposes. Free Burma Rangers Burma, Myanmar A multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement working in the war zones of Burma WITNESS Global An international nonprofit organization that uses the power of video and storytelling to open the eyes of the world to human rights abuses. Texas After Violence Project Austin, Texas A human rights and restorative justice project that studies the effects of interpersonal and state violence on individuals, families, and communities.
  14. 14. Archivo Histórico de la Policia Nacional (AHPN) History In 2005 Guatemalan human rights office governmental representatives during an on-site investigation of abandoned barracks in Guatemala City stumbled almost literally into a room full of deteriorating documents. Scope Includes more than 7 thousand nine hundred linear meters of packets of folios (~60 million folios). Records date from the late nineteenth century (1882) and extend to 1997. Types vary from official correspondence, register of investigated people, registration cards, arrest records, etc) Links LLILAS Benson Website: https://ahpn.lib.utexas.edu/ AHPN Guatemala Website: http://archivohistoricopn.org/
  15. 15. 3. Possibilities of Post-Custodialism
  16. 16. Funnel Funding to Other Organizations Changing the outcome of funding landscape to funnel financials resources to new and/or smaller groups and provide access to funds. Traditional archival institutions utilize perceived standing with funders, governments, and other authorities. Post-Custodial Opportunities Diversify Collections & Historical Narratives Collaboration with nontraditional archival institutions introduces a wider selection of historical materials.
  17. 17. Post-Custodial Opportunities Transmission of Skills Archivists provide trainings and insights on tools relevant to archival practice to non-archivists or archivists from a variety of archival settings Disrupt Divisions of Expertise Archivists shift to consultants whose aim is to build local knowledge and expertise on archival processes. Traditional archival institutions distribute claim to specialized knowledge.
  18. 18. Post-Custodial Opportunities Shift Responsibilities and Authority Consulting role requires that archivists plan alongside local practitioners and may even relinquish decision-making powers to local parties. Reform Metadata Practices A further shift away from a field specialists approach, these metadata practices take into account local parties’ expertise and proximity to record topics and subjects. Archivist is no longer the authority on the context and content.
  19. 19. THANKS! Comments or questions? Email me at i.carbajal [at] austin [dot] utexas [dot] edu or tweet me! @archiviststan ?
  20. 20. Further Readings □ Bastian, Jeannette. "A Question of Custody: The Colonial Archives of the United States Virgin Islands." The American Archivist 64, no. 1 (2001): 96-114. doi:10.17723/aarc.64.1.h6k872252u2gr377. □ From Custody to Collaboration: The Post Custodial Archival Model at the University of Texas Libraries. (2013). https://library.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Univ%20of%20Texas.pdf □ Ham, F. "Archival Strategies for the Post-Custodial Era." The American Archivist 44, no. 3 (Summer 1981): 207-16. doi:10.17723/aarc.44.3.6228121p01m8k376. □ Kelleher, Christian. "Archives Without Archives: (Re)Locating and (Re)Defining the Archive Through Post-Custodial Praxis." Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies 1, no. 2 (2017). doi:10.24242/jclis.v1i2.29. □ LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections Receives Mellon Foundation Grant." University of Texas Libraries. Accessed November 05, 2018. https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/about/news/llilas- benson-latin-american-studies-and-collections-receives-mellon-foundation-grant. □ Polk, T. Archiving Human Rights Documentation: The Promise of the Post-Custodial Approach in Latin America. (2016). https://llilasbensonmagazine.org/2016/08/05/archiving-human- rights-documentation-the-promise-of-the-post-custodial-approach-in-latin-america □ Shein, C. and Lapworth, E. Say Yes to Digital Surrogates: Strengthening the Archival Record in the Postcustodial Era. Journal of Western Archives [online] 7(1), (2016) http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/westernarchives/vol7/iss1/9