Conocimiento, Healing, and Justice
According to the Arizona Archives Matrix, the Latinx, Black, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community currently make up over 42% of Arizona's population but are only represented in 0-2% of known archival collections. Arizona’s archives are dominated by white narratives that promote white supremacy, settler colonialism, and dehumanizes Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) living on this land for centuries. This article will share parts of my autoethnography as a Queer Latinx and archivist who is addressing this inequity and erasure by establishing the Community-Driven Archives (CDA) Initiative at Arizona State University with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Since the project’s inception, I embraced a love ethic that uses Gloria Anzaldúa’s path to conocimiento as an epistemological framework for our CDA work. In their book This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation, Anzaldúa and AnaLouise Keating reflect on how conocimiento, a Spanish word for consciousness and knowledge, can be used to decolonize the mind, body, and soul of marginalized communities. I believe BIPOC and Queer community archivists experience the seven stages of conocimiento as they learn how to preserve their archives, reclaim their narratives, and build a collective memory that heals historical trauma. The undeniable truth is that decolonizing is an act of deep transformative love, courage, and reflection. A predominantly white profession will never decolonize archives because the foundation of most traditional repositories is rooted in white power and systemic racism. In order to truly liberate archives from oppressive theory and practice, there needs to be a redistribution of power and resources which grants marginalized people the authority to lead community-driven archives.
Pre-print first published online 07/14/2021
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