My annotated slides from SAA 2019

I presented at Archives*Records 2019 in Austin, on the panel “Means of Production and Selection: Capitalist Frameworks in Archival Contexts“, organized by Elizabeth Lisa Cruces of the University of Houston. My co-panelists were Sarah Carlson of the Harry Ransom Center, Dr. Jamie A. Lee of the University of Arizona, and Margarita Vargas-Betancourt of the University of Florida.

My annotated slides are below. You can also download my slides and those of my co-panelists from the Sched page for our panel.

Bliss Neoliberalism Slides_Page_01

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Archival Neutrality and Archival Authority


Earlier this week my friend and colleague Hannah Alpert-Abrams published the following article:

Tamy Guberek, Velia Muralles, Hannah Alpert-Abrams; ‘Irreversible’: The Role of Digitization to Repurpose State Records of Repression, International Journal of Transitional Justice

I want to highlight an important (short) passage on page 5, about the establishment of the AHPN as a public archive staffed in part by “former militants, communist and labor union members, civil society activists, and young people with family members who had been detained, tortured or disappeared during the most repressive years of the internal armed conflict.”

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The best movies what I saw in 2018

I saw about a dozen theatrical releases this year, and most of them were pretty good. Here are my favorites, in rough order from least-best to most-best.

11. Suspiria

The original Suspiria is both a campy product of its time (all the new age psychology nonsense) and a visual masterpiece with lots to say about buried history. It’s full of rich subtext about European life in the shadow of fascism and the Holocaust in the 1970s. Guadagnino’s version turns that subtext into text and grounds the story very specifically in Cold War Berlin, but it stops short of the original by not connecting those hidden wartime histories to post-war supernatural violence. Instead we get an audience surrogate whose wife was killed in the Holocaust, which results in some effective but ultimately hollow moments.

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Digital Resources: The Hijuelas Collection

My first (non-blog) publication is now available! I wrote with Matthew Butler of the UT History Department about our Hijuelas digitization project for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. The article is available here (requires an institutional subscription for full access):

I have previously written about this project here, and my full workflow documents are available here.

Read about our ongoing project in Puebla, Mexico

Up now on the LLILAS Benson blog, a post about the official launch of the Fondo Real de Cholula digitization project in Puebla, Mexico:

This project will digitize and describe approximately 45 thousand pages of documents from colonial and modern Cholula. In June I traveled with my colleague Dylan Joy to Puebla to deliver equipment and conduct a digitization workshop for the team of three historians, who will carry out the work for the next 9 months.


Come see me at TCDL 2018

tcdl title slide

Along with my colleague Itza Carbajal, I will be co-moderating a panel at this year’s Texas Conference on Digital Libraries. Our panel, “Post-Custodial Praxis at LLILAS Benson: Lessons in Digitization, Access, and Community Partnerships,” brings together practitioners from LLILAS Benson and see of our partners on post-custodial projects of various kinds. The panel will provide helpful information on designing and managing post-custodial projects, as well as shed light on some important collections themselves.

My presentation, “Institutionalizing post-custodial digitization at LLILAS Benson”, will cover some of the digitization workflows we have implemented in Mexico, and some lessons I have learned from several years of working on post-custodial projects.

Our panel will be held Thursday, May 17th at 1:00pm in the Big Tex auditorium, 1.102. See the TCDL 2018 program page to see our panel and add it to your calendar using Sched.

On mass shootings and neoliberalism

In response to yesterday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida:

In another time, or another country, one mass shooting, much less one targeting children, would provoke sweeping legislation sponsoring large-scale gun buybacks and mental health programs for the entire population. Instead we all feel powerless to effect change because nothing about Florida is new, and nothing can affect the NRA or reach pro-gun lawmakers.

I’ve been thinking about why we’re left feeling so powerless and helpless to stop mass shootings, and yes, of course the NRA and GOP have literal blood on their hands. But I also think the Democratic Party bears some responsibility.

We all know the NRA doesn’t advocate for gun owners – it’s a manufacturers’ lobby, protecting a very lucrative industry of death. In a functioning political economy, we’d have a major party broadly advocating against the interests of the wealthy, on behalf of the majority of the population. In a functioning political economy, the outrage and heartbreak we feel in response to a mass shooting would be properly understood as the direct result of morbid profiteering, and the majority of the country that wants reasonably strict gun law reform would already be mobilized & aware of the need for direct political and material action. In a functioning political economy a single mass shooting would be met appropriately with horror and a sweeping electoral mandate to Do Something Now.

Instead we have a relatively hapless Democratic Party committed to maintaining a broken political coalition joining the urbane wealthy with the desperate, growing working class (and shrinking lower middle class). As a party, the Democrats have repeatedly chosen this coalition over the past 20 years, continuously eschewing meaningful class consciousness, mobilization, and direct action for technocratic tinkering and reification of the unsustainable status quo. The party hops from one “handsome rising star” to the next in the hopes of finding deliverance from the perfidy of the GOP, all for naught, because the party also works incredibly hard to avoid talking about precisely what makes the GOP so goddamn evil. To identify the cause of the GOP’s evil would encourage the poor to resent the wealthy, yes even the urbane wealthy.

Crucially, this strategy just isn’t working for the Democrats. They’ve been shedding thousands of seats at the state and local levels for decades. The GOP is not far from having enough unilateral control over state governments to force unspeakably evil constitutional amendments through. And they’re willing to do it. The Democrats’ unwillingness to engage in true class mobilization and coalition building is going to get us all killed.

That feeling of helplessness we all have right now is not so dissimilar from the helplessness we feel when schools shutter as a result of funding cuts, or when SNAP gets cut, or when our local library can’t afford to hire enough staff. It’s the relentless, unstoppable logic of capital and the market, wriggling its way into our brains and preventing us from imagining an alternative to austerity. But we don’t have a resource shortage problem, we have a resource allocation problem.

We can, in fact, just take money from the rich and give it to the poor. If we can make that a political reality, we make it easier to mobilize very specifically against the ghouls in the NRA. But we need our supposed representatives to take the goddamn gloves off, or we need to find a way to force them to.

My published thoughts on the 2017 DLF Forum

This October I was fortunate enough to attend the 2017 Digital Library Federation Forum in Pittsburgh, with the support of a DLF Student and New Professional Fellowship. DLF is a very progressive, critically minded organization, and the Forum was a wholly worthwhile experience. I wrote a post for the DLF blog about a few panels which I found particularly stimulating and relevant to my work.