Archival landscapes: crossings of theory and practice in institutional repositories
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Information Studies and the humanities have different theories of the archive, causing these two fields to talk past one another. These gaps in discourse have the potential to further silence histories that have been traditionally left out of the archival record. Using recipe materials in collections as a point of interrogation, I address the theory-practice gap, and propose feminist ways of reading the archive that can be useful for those left out on the basis of gender, race, class, gender, and sexuality. I focus on two case studies from the University of Texas Austin’s libraries. The first examines the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas materials in the Harry Ransom Center, whose mediated inclusion in the archive speaks to both the failures of descriptive practices to sufficiently incorporate LGBTQ materials, and the further exclusion of racialized queer bodies in prestigious institutions. The second case study analyzes Gloria Anzaldúa’s papers in the LLILAS Benson Latin American Collections. I argue that these papers reflect histories of racism and oppressive practices in archives in general, and hegemonic power structures more broadly. Recipe materials in Anzaldúa’s papers provide liberatory approaches to reading the archive that exceed the strict parameters of the institution. My thesis argues that reading the gaps between theoretical and practical understandings of the archive offers a more socially conscientious approach to the archive for those who were never meant to be included.