The International Archival Affairs Roundtable held a joint annual meeting with the Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives (LACCHA) Roundtable in Cleveland, Ohio. The following is a report from the meeting.
International Archival Affairs Roundtable/Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives Roundtable Meeting Report
Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting
August 19, 2015
5:00 pm Welcome address
IAART Senior co-chair Christian Kelleher opened the meeting with an overview of the Itinerant Archivists Project, a pilot project in collaboration with LACCHA to promote and encourage international archival exchanges. Natalie Baur, Senior co-chair of LACCHA, joined Christian in welcoming attendees and provided an outline of the meeting agenda.
5:20 pm Itinerant Archivists Project presentation
Kelleher, Baur, and Francine Snyder (LACCHA) introduced the meeting’s main program, which is an overview of the Itinerant Archivists Project.
Snyder presented on the background of the project, noting that it came out of discussions at the 2014 Archival Leadership Institute. SAA, and specifically the precursor initiatives to the IAART, has a history of international field trips dating back to the 1970s, and lasting approximately 3 weeks per trip. For this project, Snyder noted that the organizers focused on three main areas:
- Setting realistic goals
- Unlike previous trips, this pilot project will be a one (1) week trip so that archivists can participate by using their vacation leave.
- The pilot project is small, with the first group consisting of only 8-10 people.
- Building on existing contacts
- Baur has extensive contacts in Ecuador, including a relationship with the scholar Judy Blankenship.
- Ecuador was selected as the trip location.
- Create a blueprint
- This pilot, experimental project is intended to serve as a blueprint for future international archival exchanges and the successes and failures will be reported throughout the upcoming year.
Kelleher followed up on Snyder’s report by adding that his inspiration for this project came after his 2008 SAA presentation on his work in Rwanda. After the session, many archivists approached him asking how they can get involved with similar international projects. Kelleher emphasized that this pilot project will have a service component, and will not simply be about international travel.
Baur then introduced the meeting’s speakers, Judy Blankenship (Archivo Cultural de Cañar) and Jorge Yépez (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador).
Blankenship presented on her ongoing work in the mountain village of Cañar in Ecuador, where she has worked as a photographer since 1991. Cañar is geographically isolated by mountains, and is in an area of “double conquest.” First by the Incan empire, and then followed by the Spanish. She has worked with the indigenous population (Cañari) to document their history through photography, oral histories, and other documentation strategies. Over the years this “archive” has expanded to include photographs from former Peace Corps volunteers in the area, anthropologists, and a local family photographer (Rigoberto Navas). American archivists will visit Cañar in September as part of the pilot project to assist with Blankenship’s documentation project.
The second presentation was recorded remotely by Jorge Yépez because he was unable to obtain a visa to attend the annual meeting. The presentation was in Spanish, though an English translation was provided by LACCHA. The pilot project will also include a visit to the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador.
The presentations were followed by a question and answer session. Kelleher provided further clarification on the project, and commented that it embraces the post-custodial theory of archives, which separates the holding of physical items from the role of the archivist. He was asked what contributions the itinerant archivists can make during the trip, and suggested that providing preservation materials (boxes, etc) and technical support might be a place to focus. The project group leaves on September 20, 2015 and will return one week later.
Susanne Belovari, the incoming IAART member-at-large, noted that the ICA-SUV section also organizes international archival trips and suggested that the two groups collaborate in the future.
An attendee asked about the community archives aspect of Blankenship’s project in Cañar, and Blankenship noted that it is important to emphasize that there are two distinct communities in Cañar. The indigenous Cañari, and the mestizo townspeople. The Cañar archive will be available in two repositories, one for each group. A digital archive may be possible in the future but privacy issues will need to be further discussed.
6:20 pm Open Floor
Shelley Sweeney of the University of Manitoba discussed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on Indian Residential Schools archives that are now housed at the University of Manitoba.
Susanne Belovari noted that the Who’s Who in Archives Globally project is underway and accepting submissions.
Emilie Gagnet Leumas, President of the ICA Section for Archives of Faith Traditions, provided an update about ICA. The annual conference will be held in Reykjavik, Iceland September 28-29. The next conference will be held in Seoul, Korea. Leumas also shared that ICA is concerned about the situation in Grenada, and is currently lobbying the government in support of its archives.
The 2015 Oliver Wendell Holmes recipient, Mary Grace Golfo, attended the meeting.
6:30 pm LACCHA Business Meeting
The LACCHA steering committee presented on its activities in 2014-2015, including its series of webinars, and announced election results.
6:40 pm IAART Business Meeting
Danielle Scott Taylor, IAART Junior co-chair, announced the results of the 2015 election. The new additions to the steering committee are:
Ryder Kouba (Junior co-chair)
Susanne Belovari (Member-at-large)
Scott Taylor also reported on the activities of the Global Notes blog, and announced that Polina Ilieva, IAART’s web liaison, recently stepped down from the position. A call for nominees will be sent out after the meeting.
6:50 pm SAA Council
Helen Wong Smith, IAART’s SAA council liaison, discussed the outcomes of the recent board meeting including the proposal to merge SAA Roundtables and Sections into affinity groups. Comments on this proposal can be made until September 15, 2015. Going forward, SAA leadership will only comment on issues relating to archival ethics, and not general archival issues. A new arrangement/description education track has been approved by council, and will be similar to the current DAS program. There is a new merged committee on encoded archival standards. And lastly, there will be a general referendum on a dues increase later this fall that will raise member dues by 3% and 3.5%.
7:00 pm IAART/LACCHA Meeting Adjourned