Archives for what?

Blog Home    |     04.20.2017 by     |    


Last week we discussed the history of the university and its relationship to building the nation-state, expanding capitalism, and US neocolonial and imperial powers.  Ferguson and Neufield look inward to the US in order to explore how the university as an institution, the privatization of the university and knowledge, the commodification of higher education, the rise and fall of the middle-class, the promise of the knowledge economy, the relationship between the civil rights movement and the emergence of dominant epistemologies that belittled the voices of marginalized groups that had gained some recognition, and so on.  These are all fascinating topics I have learned about through various avenues.  I was, however, drawn for the first time to Ferguson’s use of the notion of ‘the archive’ as a technique of power and control, and authority.  I have been thinking of the archiving as a way of absorbing, including, or holding “previously excluded subjects and epistemes”.  In this way, the archive becomes strategic in the management of difference; or the disciplining of subaltern or minorities.  This makes me wonder how our public scholarship is also a way of expanding the archive, and thus, the scrutiny over the communities we work with.

Last week we were fortunate to have Dr. Romeo Guzman as a guest speaker in our the seminar.  He spoke about the various community-art projects he has participated in South El Monte in the Los Angeles area.  Dr. Guzman grew up in this area and considers himself a member of this community.  In fact, he described the projects emerged and developed “organically”… This has stuck with me and brings up different thoughts and feelings as I grapple with “introducing” myself into the field and the communities I want to work with.  Furthermore, I wish he had spoken more about how the relationships between Dr. Guzman (a first generation, Mexican immigrant, and insider to the community), the hegemonic university, the inter-disciplinary humanities (i.e., ethnic studies, public history), the South El Monte community, community-engaged methodologies, all shift and re-arrange power relationships.

I understood as if Guzman framed these projects as separate or apart from his [official] research, even though he has written a book about how he these came about.  As I am re-examining and envisioning what is scholarship, I was unclear whether he also considered the projects themselves (murals, poetry, art exhitions, etc) as scholarship or as something else.