Short Paper Sessions consist of three papers:
- Caitlin Christian-Lamb: “It’s About Who’s Been Missing”: Investigating Gaps between Theory and Practice of Social, Reparative, and Restorative Justice Work in Academic Archives
- Anna Robinson-Sweet: Picturing the Police Officer with His Pen: Photography and the Carceral Archive
- Charlotte Im: The Construction and Influence of Information Trustworthiness within Social Movements: A PhD Project in Progress
“It’s About Who’s Been Missing”: Investigating Gaps between Theory and Practice of Social, Reparative, and Restorative Justice Work in Academic Archives
The early 2020s have been years of great change across the United States – amid a global pandemic, George Floyd’s murder by police in Minneapolis focused national and worldwide attention on police brutality and anti-Black violence, and the subsequent spate of protests around the world marked a shift in institutional acceptability of Black Lives Matter as a strategic priority rather than a “fringe” or radical view. Similarly, while there has been a steady increase of published work on the relationship between justice and archives, there have not been localized, in-depth systematic studies of challenges to implementing and engaging in social, reparative, and restorative justice as an archival imperative within institutional settings. Academic archives in particular have begun to grapple with the legacies of slavery that build and funded many academic institutions, and how this past continues to echo today through the experiences of students, staff, faculty, and community members.
My dissertation research focuses on the intersections of social, reparative, and restorative justice and archival practice in academic archives settings, using the University of Maryland and the 1856 Project as the primary case study – the newly established 1856 Project aims to “build an inclusive university community by enhancing the collective understanding of the Black experience at UMD.” Participant observation and interview data from the UMD case study will be triangulated with a supplementary interview study with archival practitioners at other academic archives engaging in justice work.
This research aims to provide a snapshot in time, reflecting on archives’ challenges in implementing social, reparative, and restorative justice as an archival lens in the wake of anti-black violence in their communities. In capturing this moment, I aim to provide a “gut-check” at a critical time in archival theory and practice, illustrating how concepts of justice are implemented (or not) on the ground.
Caitlin Christian-Lamb, University of Maryland
Picturing the Police Officer with His Pen: Photography and the Carceral Archive
This paper takes up Tonia Sutherland’s conception of the carceral archive, arguing that visual materials such as photographs are crucial to the carceral archives’ production of what Sutherland calls “carceral narratives.” Drawing on theorizations of photography and studies of police photographs, I analyze a collection of historical images depicting police officers in the act of creating records. A critical examination of this material, created in the 1960s and 1970s by Southern California press photographer Milton Bell, reveals how these portrayals of police record making power support carceral narratives. Contrary to the apparently benign content, this paper argues they are instead renderings of administrative violence. First, the records depicted in the moment of their creation are a core technology for, as Dean Spade puts it, the state’s distribution of vulnerability and security. Second, the perpetuation of this violence depends on the records’ inaccessibility and ultimately, their erasure, from the archive. Given these conditions, I argue that the photographs such as Bell’s become surrogates for the record itself, testifying to their reliability and extending their carceral power. This three-part interplay between the police record, its subsequent erasure, and the photographic representation underwrite the perpetuation of carceral narratives in which state records are trusted while remaining unaccountable.
Anna Robinson-Sweet, UCLA
The Construction and Influence of Information Trustworthiness within Social Movements: A PhD Project in Progress
Through the passage of time, social movements have taken many forms and definitions, yet at their core, social movements are a form of purposeful collective behaviour organised by individuals in society, aiming to and capable of bringing change to society. In recent years, social movements have shifted to and are orchestrated through a wider range of activities, including online activism. A widened access to information provides opportunities, but also brings accompanying questions and challenges. As individuals absorb information that concerns political upheaval and social change, few pause to take note of whether the information that we accept passively is actually true. Misinformation and disinformation, and the underpinning tools used to twist and spread misleading or unconfirmed facts, have been an increasing issue on the internet.
This research aims to understand the complexity of how information trustworthiness is constructed within social movements, and how its subsequent dissemination and comprehensions influences perceptions of trust and trustworthiness among social movement actors, with a particular focus on social media and the digital space. I look at two case contexts: the Hong Kong protests from 2019 onwards, and Black Lives Matter from 2020 onwards. Through this research, I hope to develop the concepts of trust and trustworthiness as useful analytical tools, of which social movements and mobilisation can be better examined, and thus create an applicable definition that is meaningful to the social movement context.
This study uses a mixed methods research design. The first phase involves creating the frameworks for collecting and analysing data and outlining the wider context of which information can be studied within both social movements. Using social network analysis, I will be constructing and analysing network graphs that capture how social movement participants interact on Twitter. This will be followed by a large-scale survey phase to understand the phenomenon from the perspective of participants. Finally, the last interview phase narrows to focus on the perceptions and perspectives of information creators and disseminators across both of my case contexts.
Charlotte Im, PhD candidate, Department of Information Studies, University College London
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This session will be recorded and made available on AERI YouTube.