radical empathy in archival practice

black and white photo of a tabby cat
From The diseases of the cat / by J. Woodroffe Hill (1901)

92nd chat, Monday October 23 2017: radical empathy in archival practice
11am Pacific / noon Mountain / 1pm Central / 2pm Eastern

moderated by @dinahhandel & @kellywooten
Storify (pdf, html) by @lizahar

Suggested resources:

Radical Empathy (from the Caswell and Cifor article) is “a willingness to be affected, to be shaped by another’s experience, without blurring the lines between the self and the other.” Caswell and Cifor’s radical empathy posits that, “subjects are embodied, that we are inextricably bound to one another through relationships, that we live in complex relations to each other infused with power differences and inequities, and that we care about each other’s well-being. This emphasis on empathy takes bodies and the bodily into account.”

Caswell and Cifor propose that a feminist ethic of radical empathy shifts four key archival relationships: relationships between the archivist and the records creator, the archivist and records subject, the archivist and user, and the archivist and larger communities. Participants in a “Radical Empathy in Archival Practice” panel at the 2017 SAA meeting proposed a fifth responsibility, that of the archivist to the archivist.

Discussion questions:

  • Q1. Reflect on the 4 relationships discussed in the article and share your experience with any that resonated with you. #critlib
  • Q2. How can we remain emotionally open and vulnerable yet remain grounded? Can we be both affective and effective archivists? #critlib
  • Q3. When do the tenets of our profession complicate or uplift our capacity to be radically empathetic? #critlib
  • Q4. How do we create a radically empathetic 5th relationship between archivists? How can we facilitate spaces for emotional education/actions? #critlib
  • Q5. How can we navigate conflicting responsibilities between all of our affective relationships? Which relationships do we prioritize? #critlib