UCLA IS Researchers Honored with SAA’s Posner Award

Professor Michelle Caswell and doctoral candidates Marika Cifor and Mario H. Ramirez recognized for work on community archives.

Michelle Caswell, assistant professor of archival studies in UCLA’s Department of Information Studies; Marika Cifor, Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin College; and Mario H. Ramirez, an IS doctoral candidate, are the 2017 recipients of the Fellows’ Ernst Posner Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award, which will be presented at a ceremony during the SAA Annual Meeting in Portland, Ore., July 23–29, recognizes an outstanding essay dealing with some facet of archival administration, history, theory, and/or methodology that was published during the preceding year in SAA’s journal, The American Archivist.

Caswell, Cifor, and Ramirez are being honored for “‘To Suddenly Discover Yourself Existing’: Uncovering the Impact of Community Archives,” which appeared in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of The American Archivist (vol. 79, no. 1). Their article reports on a set of qualitative interviews with South Asian American educators regarding their reaction to the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), an independent, nonprofit, community-based organization.

Several themes emerge from this research, including the affective impact of community archives on users and the difficulties of locating and accessing material on this ethnic group. The authors suggest that such community archives can counter the symbolic annihilation of marginalized groups, creating instead feelings of representational belonging.

The SAA Awards Committee noted that their research “presents a clear, deeply theorized and documented case for the impact of community archives” and “advances our understanding of community archives, an increasingly important area for the archival profession as we tackle issues of diversity and post-custodial approaches to preserving information.”

Established in 1982, the award is named for Ernst Posner, an SAA Fellow and former president as well as a distinguished author.

From the Society of American Archivists