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Short Papers: Affect and Emotion

July 16, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm UTC+0


Chair: Mario Ramirez

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After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Emotional Responses to Archival Work: Preliminary Findings


  • Christa Sato (Social Work, University of Toronto)
  • Henria Aton (Information, University of Toronto)
  • Wendy Duff (Dean and Professor, Information, University of Toronto)

Accessibility details:

We do not have anything in mind but would like to do anything we can to maximise the accessibility of our paper presentation.


As co-witnesses to the lives and stories they archive, archivists and archival scholars have the potential to be deeply affected by records, especially those containing emotionally challenging or sensitive accounts of human suffering and survival. Archiving such records is a productive and important endeavour that is vital to maintaining our collective history. Nevertheless, the impact of such work on archivists has been largely neglected. In response to this issue, in June 2019 Wendy Duff and Henria Aton carried out a pilot research project and presented results at AERI.

In 2020, we began a three-year, SSHRC-funded project in collaboration with the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto (PIs: Wendy Duff and Cheryl Regehr). Drawing from expertise in both disciplines, our research seeks to better understand how archivists are impacted by their work and how institutions support or fail to support their archival workers. The wider objectives of this research are to develop a theoretical model about archives, emotions, and trauma that is unique to archivists; to create open-access tools and educational materials; and to develop a training workshop for archival students and professionals. In our presentation for AERI 2020, we will share preliminary results from interviews with archivists and discuss the experience of working across disciplines in order to produce broader and more rigorous scholarship.


Expanding Creatorship: Archival Affect and Networked Creation


Bethany Radcliff, University of Michigan School of Information PhD student

Accessibility details:

AI captioning (via zoom), or whatever the preferred method is! And I will include alt-text for any images.


In this work-in-progress paper presentation, I will discuss my recent master’s report, which I am revising into an article that I plan on submitting to a journal soon. I hope to invite feedback as I work on this revision. I will discuss the limitations of creatorship alongside archival power and lingering notions of neutrality obscure the nuanced, creative, and affective contributions of the archivist, whose decisions influence the way collections come to exist as sources of information. Affect is a “force” that is “unruly,” and is “deeply implicated in how we live, form subjectivities, connect and disconnect, desire, take action, and practice difference, identity, and community” (Cifor 2021, para. 1). Tracing affect and its movement into the archival realm, I argue that the archivist’s creative contributions are recognized through an understanding of their affective experiences. Kathleen Stewart’s (2007) Ordinary Affects alongside feminist new materialist theory provides a framework for understanding affective experience in archival processing. This complicates creatorship, making the archivist a co-creator in a network of creatorship which I argue is seen clearly through work in personal archives. Through interviews with six archivists who work at memory institutions at the University of Texas at Austin, I learned that affective moments are interwoven in archival work, and often contribute to the way a collection exists in the world, but co-creative networks of creation complicate this. Bringing awareness to traumatic or sensitive affective experiences makes a place for training and protection in the archival profession. Better understanding the affective impact of archival collections and capturing this experience adds a meaningful layer to memory work. Recognizing affective experiences makes place for an archival future that pushes against the patriarchal power of archival authority and makes a place for preserving more fluid and diverse memories.


July 16, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm UTC+0
Event Category: