"To Look with Love: Emerging Themes on Records and Grief Work", presented by Jennifer Douglas

Bio: Jennifer Douglas lives and works on the unceded territory of the Musqueam people. She is an assistant professor at the School of Information at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, where she teaches courses on personal and community archives and archival representation. Her current research project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, explores the relationship between recordkeeping and griefwork through archival research and interviews with records creators and keepers.

Abstract: This talk will present findings of an ongoing research project “Conceptualizing Recordkeeping as Grief Work: Implications for Archival Theory and Practice.” Through research in archives created by the bereaved as well as in-depth interviews with bereaved parents about their recordkeeping practices, this project explores the roles that record creating and keeping can play in the processes of grief and bereavement. Introducing three key concepts – grief work, the continuing bonds model of grieving, and continuing social existence – that inform the study, the talk will focus on how the bereaved parents interviewed talked about records and grief work. I will discuss how a focus on grief work brings to light many non-traditional types of records, and explore how the bereaved describe what they do with records and what records do for them. Situating recordkeeping as a mode of grief work can inform – and possibly transform – the way that archivists understand their relationships to records, to records creators, to donors and to researchers. Seeing recordkeeping through a grief work lens, this talk will argue, challenges archivists to consider the making and keeping of records as an act of love and requires an approach to archival work as a concomitant act of care.


2 p.m. Nov. 13, 2020