Lae'l Hughes-Watkins, University Libraries, Department of Special Collections and Archives

Lae'l Hughes-Watkins, University Libraries, Department of Special Collections and Archives, authored “Moving Toward a Reparative Archive: A Roadmap for a Holistic Approach to Disrupting Homogenous Histories in Academic Repositories and Creating Inclusive Spaces for Marginalized Voices” in Journal Contemporary Archival Studies, Michael Lotstein (Ed.)., Vol. 5, Issue 6 (2018): 1-19.

Summary: In 2013, Kent State University’s Department of Special Collections and Archives launched the Black Campus Movement (BCM) Collection Development project to acknowledge the imperfection of past collection development practices that resulted in a scarcity of documentation from historically underrepresented communities. The department ventured to strengthen its holdings by acquiring records relating to the university’s rich, multilayered and diverse narratives, specifically the narratives of black student activism, 1968–1971. The Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970, resulting in the death of four white students, changed the trajectory of the Vietnam War and introduced a new discourse into the predominately white antiwar movement. The tragedy eclipsed the experiences of black students at Kent State who were pushing for some of the most culturally significant transformations on campus during the antiwar era. The material on May 4 is the most visible collection development area administered by the university archivist, but there must be a conscious effort to provide a space for those who have been made invisible or relegated to the footnotes of history. This article offers an example of how academic repositories can atone for acts of symbolic annihilation [1] that include the conscious or unconscious continuation of historically oppressive practices that exclude the voices of marginalized communities while advancing the narratives of the majority. This author introduces the concept of a reparative archive — a roadmap for how academic repositories can begin to repair their holdings and develop a holistic approach to disrupting homogeneous histories through acquisition, advocacy and utilization of collections and challenging the history of a predominantly white academic institution.

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POSTED: Friday, July 6, 2018 09:49 AM
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 28, 2024 09:03 AM