Preservation is Political: Enacting Contributive Justice and Decolonizing Transnational Archival Collaborations

Authors

  • T-Kay Sangwand UCLA Library

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5334/kula.36

Keywords:

postcustodial archives, social justice, critical archival studies, Cuba, ethics, global south

Abstract

This article contributes to critical archival studies discourse and builds upon the theoretical and practical work accomplished under the postcustodial rubric in order to propose an archival framework that is explicitly oriented in the service of justice. Global north/south postcustodial collaborations highlight the ethical and practical obligation of adopting an archival framework that accounts for expanded notions of stewardship and narrative agency. As an archivist based in US academic libraries who works primarily on transnational archival collaborations in the global south, I want to introduce the concept of contributive justice to these postcustodial transnational collaborations because it reframes the role of the partner organization in the global south and acknowledges the agency of all partners (Gomberg 2007). By drawing upon my experiences facilitating transnational archival partnerships between US academic libraries and institutions in Cuba, El Salvador, and Rwanda, I build upon Michelle Caswell’s (2017) suggested actions for dismantling white supremacy within US archives by offering concrete ways archivists can utilize a contributive justice framework to decolonize archival practices (i.e., appraisal, description, access) within transnational partnerships. By offering these examples, we can begin to both imagine and enact a more just and liberatory archival praxis. As Caswell states, ‘through the lens of liberatory archival imaginaries, our work … does not end with the limits of our collection policies, but rather, it is an ongoing process of conceptualizing what we want the future to look like’ (2014a: 51). The stakes are high in the shaping of our collective histories, and we all have the responsibility of envisioning and enacting liberatory archival futures.

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Author Biography

T-Kay Sangwand, UCLA Library

T-Kay Sangwand is a Certified Archivist who has worked extensively on preservation partnerships with non-governmental and cultural heritage organizations in the US, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. She is currently a librarian at UCLA’s Digital Library Program where she manages the Library’s cultural heritage collaborations in Cuba; previously, she was the Archivist for the Human Rights Documentation Initiative and Librarian for Brazilian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a MLIS and MA in Latin American Studies from UCLA. In 2015 Library Journal named T-Kay a Mover and Shaker in the Advocate category and in 2017 she was named a Fulbright Specialist in Library and Information Science. For 2018-2019, she was based at the Secretaría de Cultura in Mexico City as a Fulbright-García Robles Scholar.

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Published

2018-11-29

How to Cite

Sangwand, T-Kay. 2018. “Preservation Is Political: Enacting Contributive Justice and Decolonizing Transnational Archival Collaborations”. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 2 (1):10. https://doi.org/10.5334/kula.36.

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Research Articles