Nuestra Autohistoria:Toward a Chicana Digital Praxis
This essay explores the extent to which insurgent models of knowledge making offered up by theories of the "undercommons" and critical digital humanities can converge. I take up this question through an account of the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective, an undercommons project that seeks to recover the history of Chicana feminist formations in the 1960s and 1970s and thereby build "new constituencies of resistance" (Chela Sandoval) inside and outside the academy. The essay explores the project's origins, its current work, and some of the contradictions and challenges that its collaborators have faced as "fugitive" scholars using the (digital) tools of the institution to develop an autonomous education project. The essay also lays out the multiple ways in which a Chicana Digital Praxis draws from both contemporary understandings of the undercommons and the knowledge practices of an earlier generation of Chicanas whose work is preserved and documented by the project. Links: www.chicanapormiraza.org/; chicanadiasporic.org/journey/chicana/index; legacy.lib.utexas.edu/voces/; braceroarchive.org/; www.saada.org/; www.caribbeanmemoryproject.com/; content.lib.washington.edu/wwrweb/; womenwhorockcommunity.org/.
The Digital Humanities seeks to play an inaugural role with respect to a world in which, no longer the sole producers, stewards, and disseminators of knowledge or culture, universities are called upon to shape natively digital models of scholarly discourse for the newly emergent public spheres of the present era (the www, the blogosphere, digital libraries, etc.), to model excellence and innovation in these domains, and to facilitate the formation of networks of knowledge production, exchange, and dissemination that are, at once, global and local.—Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0 (2009)
What we are is what we decide we are. And what we do with our identity is also our decision, not the decision of men, the universities, "herstories," "his-stories," or anyone else.—Martha P. Cotera, keynote address, Chicana Identity Conference, Houston (1975)
I open this essay in an admittedly polemical mode, with a pair of statements that draw from the rhetorical font of the manifesto to articulate seemingly distinct visions of knowledge making within and against institutional power. The first, a digital humanities "manifesto" produced collaboratively by a collective of scholars at UCLA, proposes a challenge from inside the academy: a call to rethink the nature of our scholarly labor and the communities of reception that it might engage after the "digital turn." The second statement comes from a very different political context: a speech delivered by Martha Cotera at a Chicana feminist conference in 1975, at a moment when women's studies and ethnic studies programs were just gaining a foothold in the academy. Like the manifesto produced over thirty years later, Cotera calls us to arms, but from outside the institution, with a statement that is as much a warning about how radical knowledges can be domesticated when embraced by institutional power as it is a vision of an autonomous approach to scholarship grounded in the lived experience of Chicanas.
These statements—the twin poles of inspiration for this essay and the digital undercommons project it outlines—push us to think about whether and to what extent what we have come to call the digital humanities can truly [End Page 483] engage the challenges and contradictions of fields that, at least in their moment of origin, expanded "networks of knowledge production, exchange, and dissemination" into territories that the academy had long ignored. While the Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0 suggests as much, citing a genealogy that includes the struggles for ethnic studies, queer studies, and women's studies, its rhetoric engages the origins of those insurrectionist fields in a mode that is, at best, analogical—as a kind of historical antecedent that lends political weight to its own insurrectionist claims—while leaving the implicit whiteness of the developing field unquestioned. Indeed, the "revolution" it calls for is not grounded in any particular marginal subject-position or experience; rather, it hails a practitioner unmarked by race, gender, class, or ability, enjoined to reenvision the nature and impact of scholarly work in the wake of an equally neutral moment of technological innovation. As Andy Hines has argued of the field more generally, this act of substitution in which the revolutionary subjects (queer, women, people of color) of early field formations are replaced with disruptive "practitioners" of the digital in the humanities has played into discourses of color blindness and meritocracy that sustain white supremacy in the academy.1
Cotera's call to arms, on the other hand, is squarely about identity and the stakes of self-representation. It is as much about wresting the practice of knowledge from the clutches of institutional meaning-making as it is about demanding that institutions take seriously the implications of such an intervention, a demand that is as urgent today—when ethnic studies and other marginalized fields of study have been brought firmly into the institutional fold—as it was in 1975. Indeed, as Roderick Ferguson has demonstrated in his masterful account of the institutionalization and incorporation of "difference" in the academy, The Reorder of Things, the insurrectionist aims and subject positions of the fields of ethnic studies, women's studies, and queer studies have largely been accommodated to the multiculturalist agenda of the neoliberal university.2 While the challenges to institutional power articulated in both the Digital Humanities Manifesto and Cotera's demand for a scholarly practice that is in the academy but not of the academy (to borrow from Ferguson) have not escaped the norming techniques and regulatory agendas of the neoliberal university, there can be little doubt that the rise of digital humanities (facilitated by institutional grants, new curricular initiatives, and hiring agendas) has been shadowed by a marked disinvestment in the very fields that the Digital Humanities Manifesto cites as its insurrectionist inspiration.3 [End Page 484]
The divergent fates of these two manifestos is hardly a surprise to those of us laboring at the intersection of digital humanities and critical ethnic studies. We have seen firsthand the ways in which our projects remain systematically underfunded, our work and its products undervalued, and our professional careers stalled because our practice of scholarship does not conform to the expectations of the institution. What is surprising is the extent to which the radical potential of critical digital humanities has not yet been taken up by scholars who have developed institutional critiques and interventions that propose a different kind of praxis. Indeed, while scholars working at the juncture of critical university studies and critical ethnic studies have issued calls to be "in the institution but not of it" (Ferguson) and have challenged the commodification of knowledge by envisioning "undercommons" educational projects that disrupt the divides between the "university" and the "community" (Fred Moten and Stefano Harney), they have largely ignored new digital platforms as a potential site for achieving these ends. This disengagement may well be a response to the ways in which digital humanities itself has been "defanged" in and through its own institutionalization, a process that has preserved some of the interventionist aspects of the Digital Humanities Manifesto (its call for greater collaboration between the humanities, the social sciences, and data science, for example) while allowing its anticapitalist and anarchic tendencies (not to mention its explicit critique of the naturalization of institutional "practices, truth-making strategies, knowledge products, media forms, and ways of evaluating utterances") to fade into the recesses of the archive.4 Indeed, as Andy Hines notes, critical ethnic studies scholars envision the university "as one of a number of fronts for the systematic dismantling of liberal multiculturalism and the construction of new models of sociality, economy, and politics," and while digital humanities "embraces a similar antagonism to liberal multiculturalism and the restrictions liberal multiculturalism places on its operations," it has "a much different model of the world to come."5
Leading digital humanities scholars like Tara McPherson and important interventionist movements like #TransformDH have actively challenged the "world to come" of institutionalized digital humanities by calling attention to the whiteness of the field and its practices, dousing its tendency toward digital utopianism with a reality check about the infrastructures of power that shape our engagement with new technology, and highlighting practitioners and projects that center subjects who have been long ignored in the academy.6 Such interventions are meaningful and necessary, especially given the institutional embrace of the digital and the large sums that have been expended on projects that seemingly replicate a long tradition of humanistic research focused on [End Page 485] a "Western tradition" that is implicitly white, able-bodied, straight, and, for the most part, male.7 Scholars associated with the TransformDH hashtag, like Moya Bailey, have also called attention to the ways in which a praxis of critical digital humanities can simultaneously challenge ingrained assumptions about how we conduct our research, and respond to the increasingly urgent call to create another world in which knowledge making by and for communities in struggle can be elaborated inside (and outside) the university. Such interventions have the potential to respond to Moten and Harney's call for "fugitive" scholars to transform the university into a "place of refuge" by "stealing" the tools, resources, and time that the institution offers and putting them to use for subversive education projects without losing their souls in the process of professionalization.8 For Moten and Harney, such acts of "thievery" (of time, resources, infrastructure) are necessary to develop autonomous education projects that can upend the relations of power and institutional hierarchies that contribute to the continuing oppression of marginalized communities. While Moten and Harney leave open how such projects might be elaborated, critical digital humanities scholars like Jessica Marie Johnson and Bailey (among others) have gestured to the role that digital praxis might play in the development of an undercommons that bridges community and academy. Johnson makes precisely this connection in an interview with Melissa Dinsman:
The digital—doing digital work—has created and facilitated insurgent and maroon knowledge creation within the ivory tower. It's imperfect and it's problematic—and we are all imperfect and problematic. But in that sense I think the digital humanities, or doing digital work period, has helped people create maroon—free, black, liberatory, radical—spaces in the academy. I feel like there is a tension between thinking about digital humanities as an academic construct and thinking about what people do with these tools and digital ways of thinking. DH has offered people the means and opportunity to create new communities. And this type of community building should not be overlooked; it has literally saved lives as far as I'm concerned. People—those who have felt alone or maligned or those who have been marginalized or discriminated against or bullied—have used digital tools to survive and live. That's not academic. If there isn't a place for this type of work within what we are talking about as digital humanities, then I think we are having a faulty conversation.9
For her part, Bailey makes a space in the academy for "maroon knowledge creation" in her digital praxis, first by taking seriously the digital world-making of black trans activists like Janet Mock, but also by embracing the collaborative ethos behind such gestures. For example, Bailey challenges the paternalism and authority of social science institutions like the Institutional Review Board by turning to a different authority, the black trans women at the center of her [End Page 486] project, whom she conceptualizes not as "research subjects" but as "collaborators" who have a role in shaping her research design. Upending the traditional relationships between the institution, the scholar, and the research subject, Bailey calls for the co-creation of knowledge through a horizontal relationship shaped by what she terms "collaborative consent": a "non-hierarchical circular collaboration" in which the products of the research relationship are not always limited to an article or book produced by the researcher. Bailey's elaboration of "collaborative consent" significantly reorients a model of social science research in which the scholar draws insight from the raw material of observed phenomena and produces an original contribution to the field. Moving beyond simply offering new insights on what black trans women are doing online, her research praxis creates new worlds of knowledge exchange through the affordances of the digital, worlds that surpass the boundaries of the academy.10 Bailey's use of digital tools not just to reach a wider audience but to recalibrate power relations between the "subjects" of research and the institutional spaces that authorize her as a scholar and a maker of meaning from the raw material of people's lives suggests one way in which new digital environments can challenge traditional circuits of knowledge. How might such digital projects answer Cotera's vision of autonomous knowledge making that is generated from the lived experiences of women of color, a vision that has echoes in recent critiques (Ferguson, Stefano, and Harney) of the neoliberal multicultural knowledge machine? I take up this question through an account of the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective, an undercommons educational project that seeks to recover the history of Chicana feminist formations in the 1960s and 1970s and thereby build new circuits of knowledge that transit inside and outside the academy.
If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?
The Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective emerged from a collaboration with the filmmaker Linda Garcia Merchant. Like so many of the feminist projects that are its inspiration (our analog foremothers?), it had its origins in a late-night gripe session, in our case about how Chicanas had been systematically excluded from both popular and scholarly narratives about the 1970s. Of course, like all "consciousness raising" moments, our gripe session had a deeper history: we both identified as "daughters of the revolution," women of color who had grown up in the political ferment of the 1970s, and who had an insider's view of its contradictions as witnesses to our mother's struggles to articulate a mode of politics at the intersection of multiple oppressions. [End Page 487] Daughters of the prehistory of books like This Bridge Called My Back (1981) and Borderlands/La Frontera (1987), we knew in our bones and through our embodied experience what it meant to forge a praxis on the margins of multiple movement visions and institutional formations. And we had looked back from the wake of that political struggle to see the erasure of our mothers' legacies in the books, essays, and conferences that would come to "make sense" of both the women's movement and the Chicano movement.
Our gripe session had more proximal origins as well. We were both women who in our own scholarly and creative work had struggled to visibilize the long genealogy of women of color praxis and who oftentimes felt alone in that struggle. All of this—our professional frustrations, our personal histories—came together after yet another experience of a galling historical erasure. In 2007 Linda attended the thirtieth anniversary of the 1977 National Women's Conference. Widely considered a historic moment in the women's movement, the 1977 conference brought women from across the US to Houston, Texas, to set a national agenda for women's rights. Both of our mothers (and the two of us) had attended the original conference, and they had organized night and day to ensure that the issues of poor women, working women, and women of color would be addressed in its final resolutions. Of course, neither they nor the hundreds of other Chicanas at the original conference were recognized in the thirtieth anniversary event, which was headlined by Gloria Steinem and included only one Chicana in its keynote panel (Lupe Anguiano). Not surprisingly, for Linda the anniversary event in New York did not feel like a commemorative moment of sisterhood revived but yet another experience of profound exclusion, a feeling she gave expression to in a lengthy email that she wrote shortly after returning to Chicago from the conference:
We are rapidly disappearing from the historical consciousness of this movement. Thirty years ago we were not marginalized groups coming to the table of feminism grateful for the gift of a voice from the white feminist majority. We came as Martha [Cotera] describes "battle scarred," from the United Farm Workers, Chicano Moratorium, Commission Feminil Nacional [sic] and RUP [Raza Unida Party] in California and the RUP in Texas. We came (as Loretta Ross of SisterSong described as a panelist at this commemorative conference) from coalitions like the Black Woman's Alliance, evolved from the Black Nationalist movement birthed in the abolitionist movement, coming of age in the civil rights movement.
We came to that meeting in Houston as commissioners, presidentially appointed, leading significant numbers of minority women in the fight for feminist equality. We left Houston with a new collective identity, as women of color proud in the understanding that through sisterhood our contributions were just as vital, just as important, just as necessary to the success of the plan of action.
Now 30 years later, in the hope that some portion of that experience would be recognized, to feel like a lone voice, to see a lone voice in Lupe Anguiano as the entire representation of Latinas makes me wonder how we let this happen.11 [End Page 488]
Linda argued that as "legacy scholars" and children of activists who "dreamed and fought and sacrificed everything in the expectation that life would be better for us," we had to do more than simply rest on the labors of the generation that preceded us. We had to do something to bring attention to this history because the contributions of that generation were quickly receding from public memory as a result of scholarly neglect. Indeed, as Linda pointed out in her email, too many of the young people whom we both regularly interacted with had not even heard of Dolores Huerta, perhaps the most famous and well-regarded political figure of that generation. After this exchange (our own "come to Guadalupe moment"), we began to conceptualize a project that would bring women like our mothers into dialogue with scholars, students, and community organizers, to share their knowledge with a new generation (that finds itself combating many of the same systems of marginalization) through the primary mechanism of contemporary knowledge exchange: digital media.
The Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective began as a project focused on building a digital repository of oral histories and documents from women who were active at the nexus of multiple movements in the long civil rights period. We initially imagined the repository as a resource for scholars, teachers, and filmmakers whose projects would visibilize the contributions of Chicanas to the development of intersectional theory. However, the process of collecting these stories and documents opened up new questions for our digital praxis, and our focus shifted from the end goal of producing a repository to exploring the process of collecting itself. We began to reimagine the digital archive not as a site of top-down knowledge delivery but as an active space of exchange and "encuentro" between the present and the past that had the potential to enact new strategies of alliance and a new praxis of Chicana feminism at the intersection of digital and analog culture.12 This shift in our approach from a focus on resource development (a mode of production that is instrumental to the formation of fields of knowledge) to a focus on praxis (a mode of production more closely affiliated to autonomous knowledge projects for social change) transformed the Chicana por mi Raza project into what it is today, a networked transgenerational community of scholars, activists, archivists, and students working collaboratively to produce knowledge by and about Chicanas through the radical deployment of digital tools, institutional resources, and story sharing. Scholars working with the project have used their connections to the institution—working with its cyberinfrastructure, grants, and, most important, graduate and undergraduate students who wish to pursue research on Chicanas—to create a networked field of discourse encompassing [End Page 489] communities inside and outside the institution. In turn, the women and communities whose knowledges are preserved and activated in and through the project maintain a stake in how the project develops. Much more than simply a "collection," Chicana por mi Raza is a "collective," animated by the shared desire to preserve memory but also to imagine a different kind of knowledge praxis.13
The materials we collect are stored in a digital repository to which the women whom we interview have access.14 Contributors to the archive maintain copyright over their interviews and documents and can determine how, and in what formats (articles, books, films), they are used. The repository currently includes over one hundred and fifty oral histories collected by our project team as well as several regional partner projects like Somos Latinas in Wisconsin (Andrea "Tess" Arenas, University of Wisconsin–Madison) and Chicana Chicago (Elena Gutierrez, University of Illinois–Chicago). The repository also includes seven thousand digital items, from short films to articles, scrapbooks, posters, and photographs. Because access to our repository is login-protected, we have created a public website that includes selected biographies of the women we have interviewed (along with images from their archive and occasionally video clips of their interviews), visualizations like maps and timelines, and brief essays. These essays, archived in the "Historias" section of the website, are written by graduate and undergraduate students who have done research in our repository. Indeed, nearly all the content on the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective website is produced by students who work on the project. They accompany us to oral history interviews, digitize materials, catalog the items we ingest, upload these items to our online repository, and write essays and biographies based on their research for our public website. Building the archive has been a collective, transgenerational labor of love.
We have interviewed women who were artists, writers, early academics, and organizers, women who ran for political office, women who started resource centers and research initiatives, women who affected their neighborhoods and cities in ways large and small. We record our oral histories in their homes (or the location of their choosing) and digitize their archives in situ. We very rarely take personal items out of their natural habitat. Largely this is a response to a profound sense of betrayal that many of the women we interview feel as a result of their past interaction with scholars who have taken their materials and never returned them, or who have recorded their stories and left them to languish in institutional archives that the community (and the women) do not have access to. It goes without saying that the products of these unequal [End Page 490] exchanges—academic books and articles—have largely benefited the scholarly community, but only rarely reach the women whose knowledge is the basis for this scholarly work. As a result, the women whom we interview, who have offered their insights and archives to previous projects, are profoundly mistrustful of scholars bearing gifts. They frequently express feeling "used" and still left out of the historical record. Our commitment to creating a repository as opposed to yet another book, essay, or documentary film is a response to this unequal knowledge relationship, as much as it is a practical effort to spur more scholarship and teaching and thereby address the urgent need to document and preserve this history before it passes into obscurity.
Because most of the materials we collect are in personal collections (where they remain after our digitization process), the repository and its accompanying website is a postcustodial space of information exchange that responds to the profound gap in historical knowledge about Chicanas in the civil rights era.15 It is also a collective effort to combat the privatization of knowledge (shaped by institutional demands to hold on to archives until one's book or essay appears in print). While the digital repository itself is login-protected to ensure that the materials are used in ways that respect the wishes of the women who have shared them with the project, any scholar, student, or community organizer can request access. That said, we do stress that the website is not simply a "repository" to be mined for scholarly projects but an active and living site of knowledge exchange. Those who want access to our repository must first join our collective and make a commitment to the continuation of the project.
To join the collective, users submit a proposal that explains the nature of their research and outlines their contribution to the project. Contributions take many forms, from producing content for our public website, adding relevant metadata to objects in the archive (based on their area of expertise), designing a pedagogical project or tool, or contributing their skills in some other way. By opening up the archive to scholars, teachers, and the women whose work it documents while reframing their work as part of a collective effort, the project seeks to model a praxis in which knowledge is produced and disseminated horizontally by a broad community of scholars (understood as individuals both inside and outside the university). In this way, the project not only enacts the utopian possibility outlined in the Digital Humanities Manifesto but also responds to Cotera's call for an "autonomous" Chicana knowledge praxis that is rooted in the community.
The project is also committed to the transgenerational exchange of knowledge. For this reason, much of the work of the Chicana por mi Raza Digital [End Page 491] Memory Collective is elaborated in and through pedagogical efforts: from undergraduate research internships to short assignments that can be plugged into classes, to fully elaborated courses in which students focus on collecting oral histories and archives from local women. For example, I have developed an oral history class linked to the project in which teams of student researchers are tasked with completing the full process of collecting, organizing, and interpreting materials for the archive. They undertake this process from start to finish, assisting with oral histories, scanning documents, cataloguing materials collected, uploading them to our repository, and writing biographies and essays based on their research for our website. To do this work, students must learn about the historical context of the materials they are collecting as well as oral history methodologies and the fundamentals of archival theory and practice. They must also acquire a dizzying array of technological skills, from basic to complex. They learn how to digitally record oral history interviews and scan materials to archival standards, they work with spreadsheets to keep track of metadata, and they learn basic Drupal skills so that they can create essays and biographies for our public website. This skill building is facilitated by pedagogical materials that we have developed for the project, from reading lists to guidelines, workflows, and spreadsheet templates, all of which are made available to others who wish to teach courses linked to the project. By providing these resources to instructors who might otherwise be wary of developing a logistically complicated oral history class, we hope to encourage them to create high-quality local history projects that will contribute materials to the repository without having to reinvent the wheel. In effect, this pedagogical model "crowdsources" our archive and oral history collection process—reaching areas that our research team may not be able to access given our limited resources—but it does so under reasonably controlled circumstances.16
The project also seeks to expand its engagement with broader communities by using materials in its digital collection to reach spaces outside the institution and people who may not have access to our website and repository, enacting a key transfer of knowledge from digital to analog environments. We have curated public history projects from pop-up exhibits to major community exhibitions, including two major exhibits in Detroit in partnership with the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design. The first, Las Rebeldes: Stories of Strength and Struggle in Southeastern Michigan (2013), was based on oral histories and archives collected by one of my classes at the University of Michigan. The second exhibit, Chicana Fotos, featured selected photographs from a vast archive of images taken in the 1970s by Nancy De [End Page 492] Los Santos, a Chicago-born filmmaker. The photographs document De Los Santos's travels through multiple movement spaces in the 1970s, including United Farm Workers Boycott activities in Chicago, struggles against gentrification and police brutality in Chicago and Texas, and the first International Women's Year conference in Mexico City (1975). De Los Santos's photographs demonstrate that contrary to popular belief, Chicanas were key image makers in (and beyond) the Chicano movement. Through its collecting, pedagogy, and public engagement, the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective seeks to expand scholarly knowledge about Chicanas in the 1970s while forging new communities of struggle inside and outside the university. In and through the efforts of the scholars, students, archivists, and community activists who form its transgenerational collective, the project has developed a knowledge praxis that seems at once entirely new and also reminiscent of the kinds of autonomous knowledge projects that Chicanas elaborated before the institutionalization of ethnic studies.
Toward a Chicana Digital Praxis
The Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective is part of a wave of digital collection projects focused on recuperating lost or understudied historical experiences. These include long-standing institutionally supported projects like the Bracero History Archive (braceroarchive.org) and the Voces Oral History Project (legacy.lib.utexas.edu/voces/) as well as archival projects that have developed models of collection and support outside traditional libraries and museums. Some large, well-developed projects like the South Asian American Digital Archive (www.saada.org)—which provides public access to a repository nested in a content-rich easy-to-navigate website—have found a way to survive without major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mellon, or the American Council of Learned Societies, through financial support from users and voluntary labor from affiliated scholars and archivists across the country. I have written elsewhere about other, more ephemeral, projects that reimagine the archive as a site for community building and exchange, like Kevin Browne's poetic archival recovery of the rhetorical resonances of the Black Caribbean (www.caribbeanmemoryproject.com), and the Women Who Rock Oral History Archive (content.lib.washington.edu/wwrweb/), a project that uses the archive as a tableau for community engagement and encuentro (www.womenofrock.org).17 The Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective has drawn inspiration from all these efforts. It is in many ways a hybrid project that joins the [End Page 493] impetus toward resource creation (Voces Oral History Project, Bracero History Archive) with attention to how the process of exchange and encounter at the center of archival recovery and oral history engenders new forms of community (SAADA, Women Who Rock, Caribbean Memory Project). This hybridity has opened up a new understanding of the archive as both a site of recuperation and a site of community. Our engagement with the materials and memories of the women in the archive has also pushed us to think about different ways of imagining knowledge and different models of knowledge making.18
Indeed, in many ways the digital praxis of Chicana por mi Raza reflects the commitments and practices of a mode of collaborative, collective, and resource-oriented knowledge production—developed by Chicana feminists in the 1970s—in which theory was in active dialogue with on-the-ground movement building. Chicana knowledge praxis in the 1970s operated at the intersection of popular education/organizing and academic knowledge systems. While there were many efforts to develop curricula and increase numbers of faculty who were committed to building programs of study within the institution (through books, syllabi, and bibliographies), Chicana feminists in the 1970s were engaged on all fronts of social struggle, from political organizing to writing and research, to the production of creative writing and visual images that shaped the movement imaginary. Chicanas did not wait for institutional recognition to produce knowledge—their poetry, essays, books, newspapers, and bibliographies were often self-published, in limited runs, like Cotera's foundational books, Diosa y Hembra (1976) and The Chicana Feminist (1977). These extra-institutional knowledge forms shaped some of the earliest Chicana feminist studies classes in the 1970s (taught by women like Anna NietoGomez, Gloria Anzaldúa, Adelaida del Castillo, and Inés Hernandez Avíla, among many others). And while some early journals, like Encuentro Femenil (published by the Chicana student organization Hijas de Cuauhtémoc) and Hembra (edited by Avíla, who received funding from a Modern Languages Association grant), did emerge within academic institutions, their readership extended far beyond these spaces.
Inspired by the praxis of the "subject" at the heart of its recovery efforts, the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective deploys digital infrastructure to reformat knowledge relations inside and outside the academy and build a transgenerational Chicana "undercommons." In this sense, it is simultaneously an archival development project (with the goal of building a Library of Alexandria of Chicana praxis) and a collaborative and process-oriented effort to move beyond the individualist ethos that has colonized the academic space [End Page 494] of gender studies and ethnic studies, fields that over the years have shed their more emancipatory and nonhierarchical impulses in favor of a "disciplined" mode of scholarly production (by scholars for scholars) that has effectively narrowed the audience to which (and often for which) our work speaks. While our project gestures toward what might be considered one of the classic genres of institutional knowledge making (the archive), it is an interruption of business as usual in the academy; a refusal to accommodate to professional norms that would have us produce scholarship in ways that transform subjugated and subaltern knowledges into commodities (books, films, articles) that can be circulated, exchanged, and celebrated, resulting in prizes, better jobs, invited lectures, and everything that counts for prestige in the academy. It is also a rejection of the cultural capital that comes with being a national "expert" on a given social reality (but not a refusal of expertise, per se).
As Patricia Hill Collins has famously noted in her work on the multifaceted dimensions of Black Feminist epistemology, the standards for inquiry within Chicana feminist knowledge praxis often diverge from those of the institution in how they judge truth, reliability, and the aims of scholarship.19 While the primary impetus of the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective is to recover and preserve the knowledge forms that Chicanas developed in the civil rights era, its intervention is not isolated to recuperating and preserving the past. Because it is as much about imagining a different politics of knowledge making as it is about recovery of the "evidence" of that difference, the project presents a challenge to the epistemological norms of positivism, even as it engages in practices often associated with those norms. Our repository is an unruly, diffuse, and rhizomatic network of thousands of interconnected memories and documents that resists any single metanarrative of Chicana feminism and highlights both the complexities and the interconnections of that formation. The aim of the project is to honor this complexity while providing the primary documents that enable members of its collective (not exclusively scholars) to tell new kinds of stories that document its varied and interwoven threads.
An excellent example of this approach can be found in Linda Garcia Merchant's innovative digital-storytelling project, "Chicana Diasporic, A Nomadic Journey of the Activist Exiled" (chicanapormiraza.org/chicana-diasporic), included in the digital edition of this special issue. "Chicana Diasporic" uses materials from the Chicana por mi Raza repository to explore the political-ideological journey of a network of women involved in the Chicana Caucus of the National Women's Political Caucus from 1973 to 1979. The museum-style [End Page 495] format of her digital project melds "hybrid-text with personal narrative and annotations of speeches, correspondence, event posters, photographs, filmed interview clips," as well as her own analysis of the Chicana Caucus's "history, structure and purpose, and their national impact on 1970s second wave feminism" to illuminate the "character, motivation, and origins of the political-cultural work of hundreds of Chicanas over this six-year period, across the US and Mexico, and through often simultaneous events."20 Such microhistories of struggles, individuals, and organizational networks contribute to a nuanced understanding of the heterogeneous field of Chicana praxis in the 1970s that is grounded in historiographical method but pushes back against the positivism of historical inquiry and embraces the open-ended and contingent nature of our understanding of the past, one that is necessarily filtered through our own histories of becoming. In effect, Linda's project enacts a mode of what Anzaldúa terms "autohistoria-teoría," in which the historical past is "put through a sieve" and placed into dialogue with present conditions.21
This understanding of history as a deeply personal site of heterogeneity, ambiguity, and contradiction is a key feature of Chicana feminist knowledge praxis, which was often elaborated within and against multiple movement ideologies and their attendant historiographical imaginaries. Such historical remixing suggests a Chicana praxis of curation/collection/interpretation that refuses the split between practice and theory and thereby challenges the conventional division of labor in which interpretation is valued as the sine qua non of scholarly production.22 The privileging of interpretation (understood as the purview of the "scholar" and the "expert") over collecting (the task of the professional archivist) has been instrumental to the entrenchment of (gendered) hierarchies of value in the academy, even within formerly dissident and disruptive fields of study. As Linda's project demonstrates, the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective disrupts this hierarchy of value by envisioning a praxis of Anzaldúan "autohistoria-teoriá" in which collecting, curating, and interpreting are co-constitutive modes of knowledge making.
Indeed, Chicanas approached resource building—from the production of bibliographies and resource books in the 1970s (designed to support the work of consciousness-raising groups as well as the development of Chicana feminist curricula) to the anthologizing practices that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s—as both a necessary task and a theoretical process central to the elaboration of Chicana feminism. The interventions that shaped foundational texts like This Bridge Called My Back (1981) and the numerous anthologies edited by Chicanas and other women of color in those early years were not simply acts of critical collecting but also theoretical propositions. Yet in its [End Page 496] establishment as a field of study within the academy, Chicana feminism has been subjected to an all-too-familiar disciplining process in which scholarly production is envisioned narrowly as an individual interpretive practice, even as its presumed interlocutors (once envisioned as the community and the university) have been reduced to a cadre of trained "experts" in competition with one another for the next big insight. The disarticulation of theory from practice and the privileging of analysis over resource building have radically transformed both the scope and the audience of Chicana feminist scholarship at a moment in which the insights of Chicana feminist praxis are more vital than ever (as Garcia Merchant's 2007 email so urgently articulates). The Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective draws inspiration from a different mode of knowledge production, not to return us to some utopian past, but to address the urgent needs of the present. As a critical digital undercommons, the repository is much more than a collection: it hails a "collective" in the making.
Precarity and Its Discontents
In 1973 Martha Cotera and Evey Chapa (then a doctoral student at the University of Texas) established the Chicana Research and Learning Center (CRLC), a clearinghouse for resources by and about women of color. Funded by grants from the Women's Educational Equity Act, CRLC operated for nearly ten years and produced and distributed numerous resources for use in community and university settings. Its last major effort, which was never completed, was a "bio-bibliographic database of Hispanic women" that sought to collect information on historically significant Hispanic women across the Americas and to organize that information in a searchable format, using "cutting-edge" database technology. The project had reached over one thousand entries before it was finally abandoned. Eventually its data, stored on eight-inch floppy disks, was lost to the inevitable tide of technology obsolescence. The CRLC ceased active operations in the 1980s, the victim of a shift in funding priorities under the Reagan administration, but its many projects and publications remain part of the hidden archive of struggle that our project seeks to document. While some projects initiated by Chicanas as a result of their organizing in the 1970s, like Mujeres Latinas en Acción in Chicago and the Chicana Service Action Center in Los Angeles, were able to survive by shifting their priorities along with the shifting funding stream, others, like the Women of Color Cooperative (Madison, Wisconsin) are with us only by virtue of their archival documents and the memories of the women who initiated them. The fact that these efforts were not sustained, and that even their documentary records have remained [End Page 497] largely invisible to historians, speaks to the conditions of precarity that haunt Chicana knowledge production inside and outside the academy.
Like the many knowledge-making projects of our foremothers, the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective exists because we have willed it to. We have sought out national funding sources to no success, though the project has been awarded smaller grants within the University of Michigan. We have led a migratory existence, moving from one institutional server to another (carrying our archive with us), and have had access to cutting-edge digital tools largely as a result of the beneficence of interested developers and individuals in institutions (like James Myers of SEAD and Kevin Hamilton of UIUC's Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences) who have seen something worthwhile in our efforts.23 We have relied on the knowledge, patience, and commitment of the project's serially underpaid digital archivist, Marco Seiferle Valencia, who has been with Chicana por mi Raza since 2013, and has had to suffer through his own conditions of precarity, relying on small institutional grants for his next paycheck until he was able to get a "real" job (a development that, however necessary, inevitably deprived the project of a full-time digital archivist). The grunt work of building the collection has been completed by committed students and contingent faculty who do work for the project through courses, independent studies, and unpaid research internships. For years (before she became a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska), Linda worked on the project as an unpaid collaborator, using her vacation time to go on oral history trips and to edit film footage for hours on end. While I have shaped my teaching and research agenda to support the project, this work is not recognized when it comes to promotion. Despite the fact that dozens of scholars, teachers, and students have used the materials we have collected in their research, teaching, and public history projects, what matters in the academy is the book—the neat, tidy, and of course, comprehensive, narrative that will tell us what Chicana feminism was in the 1970s and "correct" the historiographical record. But we have learned too much from the archive to reduce it to this, and the book is a luxury when the stories are disappearing.
What does it mean to be a "resource"? It means swimming against the academic stream, scrambling for money, tolerating the patronizing attitude of so many scholars (even women of color) who write the project off as pure labor of love, and do not take seriously the ways in which it challenges, even decolonizes, the spaces and the modes through which we do our work; the ones who do not take it seriously as a theoretical proposition because it is not a BOOK. Being a resource means burnout, and the sudden realization (after [End Page 498] receiving yet another email requesting to use materials from our archive that will help them write that paper or book) that this happened to my mother all the time when she was working to build the CRLC. She built a resource that many people used, but she is now largely lost to feminist historical memory, because resources get depleted, exploited, and used up. They do not last. Books last, and so their authors get taken up, celebrated, elevated as spokespeople; they become "experts" who know how to use "resources."
I began thinking about this after reading a bittersweet farewell message in the last issue (October 1984) of Wisconsin's Women of Color news, one of the "resources" in our collection. Notwithstanding the many "letters of support and encouragement" that the publishers (Wisconsin's Women of Color Cooperative) had received since initiating the project in 1983, they had decided to "disband." After "taking an inventory of their energy levels," they came to the realization that they were "too few dealing with a media of expression for which there was a tremendous need." Thanking all the people who contributed writing, art, money, time, and advertising, the editors expressed hope that rather than "being an ending to the WOMEN OF COLOR Cooperative," their decision to disband might spur others to continue the effort to improve communications and understanding between women of color, a project that was vitally necessary to combat the "multiple forces of oppression" that affected their lives, "among them, racism, sexism, classism and heterosexism." They admitted that with "more people and better organization" they might have been able to continue publishing, but they nevertheless expressed a sense of deep gratitude for having had the opportunity to work together. "It has not always been easy," they concluded, "but we have all grown."24
I recognized myself (and the others who have dedicated so much to the Chicana por mi Raza project) in this farewell message. It echoes not only our burnout but also the institutional barriers that continue to silence us and sideline our efforts to take control of the means of intellectual and scholarly production by making it impossible to do the work, by not recognizing its value, by systematically denying us the necessary resources to exist. And yet we labor on, at the expense of everything else, until we see our reflections staring back at us in the echo chamber of history, and figure out that we are merely a resource, destined to disappear and perhaps be recovered again someday by our dutiful daughters. The short life of the Women of Color Cooperative speaks a hard truth from the archive: while certain kinds of scholarly labor are privileged, others are seen expendable. Texts get circulated, assigned to students, added to reading lists, canonized. Labors of love—especially those not supported by [End Page 499] major institutional grants—all too often disappear. The university will characterize our insistence on doing the work of the project as "wayward labor" (in the words of Harney and Moten), as the "waste" produced in our refusal to do the proper work of criticality—work that in the end asserts the bourgeois individualism at the heart of the university. But we insist on the value of this work, not as a form of professionalized career building, but as worldbuilding.
Beyond the constant low-grade frustration that comes with swimming against the tide, it is the precarity of the project that can keep us up at night, especially given the fact that the stories and documents it has collected are preserved only in our digital files, which may disappear at any time (the memory of the bio-bibliographic database of Hispanic women haunts us like a ghost of technologies past).25 But those moments of anxiety also propel us to think critically about the constraints we have encountered in the elaboration of our project, leading to fresh insights about the institutional norms and containment strategies of the twenty-first century academy, a formation that simultaneously offers the promise of inclusion and shapes its terms of engagement. For example, from the start we conceptualized the project as a dissident (noninstitutional) archive, brought to life by nonprofessional (but not untrained) archivists, through a collaborative process of collection and interpretation (in dialogue with the women who contribute to it). This formulation of the project often resulted in skepticism from both archivists and scholars. Professional archivists in particular seemed alarmed by our archive's extra-institutional origins, its "nonprofessional" staff, and its precarity. What "standards" would govern the metadata we applied to our collection and its organization? What was our plan for ensuring its "sustainability"? Our answers to these questions rarely satisfied, but they spoke to the conditions of absence in the current archival landscape. The project is, after all, a response to a state of emergency in which the archival materials of key Chicana activists are not being collected by major repositories and are disappearing as key historical figures pass on. As I have noted elsewhere, these "disappeared" archives are victims of the "invisibilizing feedback loop" of the traditional model of scholarly production in which
one's access to power determines one's presence in the archive, and one's presence in the archive shapes historical knowledge, which, in turn, informs the system of valuation that structures the priorities that govern collecting and preservation in institutions. Those farther away from the mechanisms of power—women, the working class, ethnic and sexual minorities—are rarely represented in institutional archives. Consequently, their lives and interventions are rarely the subject of historical meaning-making.26 [End Page 500]
Such interactions revealed the differing stakes of knowledge production for those of us who have been left out of history and who continue to believe that knowledge can and should be put to ends that surpass the professionalized confines of the university. Indeed, as Jessica Marie Johnson points out, "digital tools," including insurgent archives on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and other off-the-shelf platforms, have been used to "survive and live" by those outside the academy "who have felt alone or maligned or those who have been marginalized or discriminated against or bullied."27 These very conditions of marginalization also spur some of us within the academy to imagine "fugitive" projects that "steal" the means of production of the institution to create spaces of knowledge that generate affinities between the present and the past and produce new communities of struggle. As ephemeral as they might be, the fruits of such projects are vital to our survival, not just as "objects" of knowledge, but as building blocks for a world in which we can all live.
One might even be led to question the will to permanence that subtends the archival imaginary as yet another "colonizing trick" in which the gifts of institutional inclusion—historical visibility, recognition, permanence—are offered up with a poisoned pill.28 What does it mean to be told that you are not a "legitimate" archive unless you can claim permanence when the very institutional entities that can guarantee such a status (a major national grant or a partnership with an established collection) do not support your efforts? These contradictions have shaped the project too, pushing us to think beyond the "Archive"—which, after all, has always existed to preserve the permanent record of institutional power.29 If the implicit definition of an archive is its permanence, then the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective refuses the favor, opting instead for the unprofessional and unruly, the subversive and impermanent yet generative space of the undercommons, because
we cannot be satisfied with the recognition and acknowledgement generated by the very system that denies a) that anything was ever broken and b) that we deserved to be the broken part; so we refuse to ask for recognition and instead we want to take apart, dismantle, tear down the structure that, right now, limits our ability to find each other, to see beyond it and to access the places that we know lie outside its walls. We cannot say what new structures will replace the ones we live with yet, because once we have torn shit down, we will inevitably see more and see differently and feel a new sense of wanting and being and becoming.30
Entering into this new space of "wanting and being and becoming"—a territory not unlike Anzaldúa's "New Mestiza consciousness" with its "tolerance for ambiguity" and its building on the past in the interest of an as-yet-unimagined future—requires seeing through "both serpent and eagle eyes," taking the tools [End Page 501] of the institution to build impermanent structures without fear, and inviting new constituencies of resistance to inhabit those structures.31 These are the aims of our Chicana digital praxis; we may not "dismantle the master's house" (in the words of Audre Lorde), but we can build a new home—however temporary and ephemeral—for fugitive scholars inside and outside the academy.
Maria Cotera is associate professor of Women's Studies and American Culture at the University of Michigan. Her first book, Native Speakers: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, Jovita González, and the Poetics of Culture (University of Texas Press, 2008), received the Gloria Anzaldúa book prize for 2009 from the National Women's Studies Association. Since 2009 she has been building Chicana por mi Raza, a digital archive documenting Chicana Feminist Praxis in the 1970s.
1. In his careful examination of faculty positions advertised in the MLA Job Information List—English Edition (JIL), Andy Hines notes that while the share of digital humanities jobs within the total number of jobs has increased almost eightfold since 2000, the share of other categories, such as American literature, African American literature, other minority literature, and postcolonial literature, has declined overall. See Hines, "Defining Digital Humanities, Redefining the University," Blind Field: A Journal of Cultural Inquiry, July 20, 2016, blindfieldjournal.com/2016/07/20/defining-digital-humanities-redefining-the-university/.
2. Roderick Ferguson, The Reorder of Things: The University and Its Pedagogies of Minority Difference (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012).
3. Hines, "Defining Digital Humanities."
4. Schnapp and Presner, Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0, May 29, 2009, manifesto.humanities.ucla.edu/2009/05/29/the-digital-humanities-manifesto-20.
5. Hines, "Defining Digital Humanities."
6. See Tara McPherson, "Why Are the Digital Humanities So White? or Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation," in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, ed. Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/29; and Moya Bailey, Anne Cong-Huyen, Alexis Lothian, and Amanda Phillips, "Reflections on a Movement: #TransformDH, Growing Up," in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, ed. Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/59.
7. While I hesitate to single out particular projects, a whole essay could be devoted to the treasure and positive media attention extended to projects like "Walden, a Game" (supported by grants from the NEH and NEA), a first-person, open-world video game inspired by Henry David Thoreau's Walden. In the game a disembodied white hand reaches out into the (empty) wilderness to acquire the objects necessary for survival: food, fuel, shelter, and clothing. The game hinges on two goals: survival through self-reliance and contemplation of the wonders of nature (accessed January 15, 2018, www.waldengame.com/).
8. Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (New York: Minor Compositions, 2013); see also Elizabeth Johnson and Eli Meyerhoff, "Charting the Terrain of Struggle in the Global University," Ephemera 9.4 (2009): 386.
9. Melissa Dinsman, "The Digital in the Humanities: An Interview with Jessica Johnson," Los Angeles Review of Books, July 23, 2016, lareviewofbooks.org/article/digital-humanities-interview-jessica-marie-johnson/.
10. Moya Bailey, "#transform(ing)DH Writing and Research: An Autoethnography of Digital Humanities and Feminist Ethics," Digital Humanities Quarterly 9.2 (2015): www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/9/2/000209/000209.html.
11. Linda Garcia Merchant, email correspondence, November 15, 2007.
12. María Cotera, "'Invisibility Is an Unnatural Disaster': Feminist Archival Praxis after the Digital Turn," in "1970s Feminism," ed. Lisa Disch, special issue, South Atlantic Quarterly 114.4 (2015): 781–801. For more on how institutional archives are beginning to rethink their relationships with communities, see "Radical Archives," a special issue of Archive Journal, edited by Lisa Darms and Kate Eichhorn (November 2015), which includes a broad range of essays from artists, activists, critics, and archivists who are collecting "radical" archives and radically rethinking "The Archive" itself. See www.archivejournal.net/essays/radical-archives/ (accessed March 30, 2018).
13. I have written elsewhere about this "collective" as a Chicana "counterpublic"; see Cotera, "'Invisibility Is an Unnatural Disaster.'"
14. Since 2013, we have been using Clowder (originally Medici) as a digital platform to organize our repository. Clowder enables users in multiple locations to upload and download multimedia files via a login. We have chosen Clowder (which was originally developed for collecting environmental data and other natural science applications) over Omeka or Drupal, because it is very simple to use (even for digital novices), and it allows for the storage, organization, and quick retrieval of very large files. Clowder was developed through an NSF-funded multi-institution collaboration that includes the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign, and Indiana University. Our repository is currently housed on an Advanced Research Computing server at the University of Michigan.
15. In their introduction to the special issue on radical archives in Archive Journal, Darms and Eichhorn note that the postcustodial model is "the most radical approach to creating community archives" because "the focus is no longer on the physical transfer of collections to institutions, but rather on archivists managing records that will remain in the custody of their creators."
16. For more on the radical potential of crowdsourcing in the construction of community archives, see Darms and Eichhorn, introduction.
17. Cotera,"'Invisibility Is an Unnatural Disaster.'"
18. In their Archive Journal Case Study, "Participatory Archives," Lauren Tilton and Grace Elizabeth Hale write about the digital publics imagined in their Participatory Media project in ways that resonate with the kind of Chicana digital praxis that has developed organically as we have built our archive. Tilton and Hale offer an exceedingly clear and informative explication of how digital humanities projects that sit at the nexus between digital humanities and public humanities (like Chicana por mi Raza) transform both the content of archives and the way we imagine them. They are particularly inspired by the radical turn in participatory media in the 1960s and 1970s, and note the resonances between emerging digital public humanities (DPH) methods and the "media forms," "evolving archive," and "practices of interpretation" of an earlier participatory media revolution: "The media producers whose 1960s and 1970s materials we seek to preserve, contextualize, and circulate experimented with media forms and participatory practices, and they worked to create and engage publics in the context of the technologies available at the time." They argue convincingly for a DPH method that merges the two impulses and practices. See Lauren Tilton and Grace Elizabeth Hale, "Participatory Archives," Archive Journal, August 2017, www.archivejournal.net/essays/participatory-archives/.
19. Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2000).
20. Linda Garcia Merchant, "Chicana Feminism Virtually Remixed," project proposal for Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective, submitted on August 1, 2017 (see this issue).
21. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987), 104.
22. I have written about the centrality of collecting and curation to Chicana knowledge praxis in "Unpacking Our Mothers' Libraries: Practices of Chicana Memory before and after the Digital Turn," an essay in Chicana Movidas: New Essays on Activism and Feminism in the Movements Era, ed. Dionne Espinoza, María Eugenia Cotera, and Maylei Blackwell (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018), 299–316.
23. In 2011 the project formed a key partnership with the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, thanks to the advocacy of the institute's director, Kevin Franklin. This partnership enabled our growing repository (which was previously housed on multiple hard drives) to move to a collaborative data management platform (then Medici, now Clowder) that could be accessed remotely by multiple users. We continued to work with Clowder's developers, particularly James Meyers, who has helped us by adding key features to the platform. Franklin and Meyers are Chicana por mi Raza's cyberinfrastructure angels, as is Sharon Broude Geva, director of the University of Michigan's Advanced Research Computing, who has supported our transition from a server at the National Center for Applied Research (in Urbana-Champaign) to a server on ARC. Without these supporters, our project could not have been realized.
24. Women of Color Cooperative, "Our Last Issue," Women of Color News 2.4 (1984).
25. This precarity was brought home in the most extreme way while I was working on this essay. We thought that we had found a relatively safe harbor for the archive once we migrated it to a local server maintained by ARC at the University of Michigan. Unfortunately, over the 2017 holiday break, the machine that housed our archive failed, and we lost all changes and additions that had been made since our migration in the spring of 2017. Hundreds of hours of student work were lost, but more important, we learned that the backup conventions for computational scientists look very different than what we needed for a sustainable repository in the making. This incident has led us to reconsider how we manage our data. For example, we are developing a backup plan in partnership with ARC and are now running the repository's platform on three separate machines (all of which hold copies of the archive that are updated whenever we add or change data in our repository). This practice might be further dispersed among multiple partner institutions, creating a networked or distributed model for the repository that is ultimately more resilient.
26. Cotera, "'Invisibility Is an Unnatural Disaster,'" 785.
27. Dinsman, "Digital in the Humanities."
28. I borrow the phrase "colonizing trick" from David Kazanjian, who uses it in a very different context to describe the ways in which enlightenment discourse articulated the racial, gendered, and class contradictions of national formations in the Americas. See Kazanjian, The Colonizing Trick: National Culture and Imperial Citizenship in Early America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).
29. Randall C. Jimerson, Archives Power: Memory, Accountability, and Social Justice (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2009); see also Darms and Eichhorn, Introduction.
30. Jack Halberstam, "The Wild Beyond: With and for the Undercommons," in Harney and Moten, Undercommons, 6.
31. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987), 78.