Join us us for a job talk from one of our Faculty recruitment candidates
For disabled people, how we see ourselves in history matters. Disabled minds and bodies have historically entered into archival records through the criminalization of disabled—and other historically marginalized—identities, resulting in the creation of legal, medical, and institutional records that make up a plethora of records documenting disability. Considering the abundance of such types of records that tell one side of disability history, this talk uses empirical data to investigate the ways in which living disabled people are affectively impacted by the ways they are represented in archives. Through interviews with disabled archival users, this research highlights the complexity of how disabled people relate to and interact with historical representation: witnessing the violences of the past in archival material, many interviewees described also expecting to be erased in history. Furthermore, disabled researchers expressed how they could simultaneously feel the harm of the treatment of disabled people alongside a complicated excitement or gratitude for evidence. In other words, the very records that advocate for the eradication or institutionalization of disabled people can also serve as evidence to be politicized towards telling a history of oppression. Moreover, this research highlights affective impacts not only through the contents of records but also of the people and decision-making processes that influence how materials are accessed and understood. Therefore, in foregrounding disabled people’s interactions with historical material, this talk also draws a critical lens on archival processes—in both physical and digital archives—as archivists mediate how materials are located, examined and understood by communities today. Situated within a larger research project that considers the relationality of archival material, this presentation addresses the affective relationships between living disabled people, disabled people in the past, and the archives that represent them as well as the implications for digital tools and interventions.