5/6 Dissertation Defense - "Remembering the Right Way: Community, Ephemera, and Archives"

Diane Daly, Ph.D. Candidate

May 6th, 2016 
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Harvill Building, Room 402


Archival tradition is based on cyclical power dynamics that surround exclusive histories with “negative archival space,” yet many of the stories in that negative space are actively connected and dynamically archived within the informal framework of community. Among efforts by archival scholars to better represent community histories is scholarship around “communities of records” that has ignited new interest in communities’ embodied expressions, although questions remain about how we can include embodied expressions and particularly community performances in archival practice. I propose one key concept relative to archiving in communities is ephemera, a classification in archival studies and library science under which short-lived or “difficult” materials are classified,[1] but which I recast as a material and immaterial locus of engagement at the center of communities' dynamic commemorative practices. Considering the crucial role played by history in the construction of both individual and community identity, I argue that communities reinforce their boundaries by transmitting histories through ephemeral objects and ephemeral performance, to “remember the right way.”[2] I situate this argument in qualitative case study analysis of the All Souls Procession of Tucson, Arizona, an annual community event in honor of the dead that is centered in commemorative ephemera, which has transmitted local histories including those that (re)define the event itself since 1990.  Through this analysis, I map one area of negative archival space by drawing an analytical guide to one community's archival scenario play through ephemeral commemoration. The goal of this analysis is thus twofold: First, I hope to illuminate a growing subcultural form of commemoration for archival professionals to consider in the drive toward more inclusive histories; Second, in the spirit of “disciplinary convergence”[3] I hope to enrich understandings of commemorative expressions to help the information and archival sciences form more vital relationships with dynamic communities, networks, and disciplines.

  • [1] Chris E. Makepeace, Ephemera (Gower, 1985); Alan Clinton, Printed Ephemera (Bingley, 1981); Timothy G. Young, “Evidence: Toward a Library Definition of Ephemera,” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage 4, no. 1 (2003): 11–26, doi:VL  - 4.
  • [2] Rhonda, “Personal Interview, October 13th,” 2015.
  • [3] CF Brooks, “Disciplinary Convergence and Interdisciplinary Curricula for Students in an Information Society,” Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 2016, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14703297.2016.1155470.
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Published Date: 

04/11/2016 - 11:01

Related Topic(s): 

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences