The South Asian American Digital Archive: History and Community-Based Archives

Saturday, January 3, 2015: 9:10 AM
Conference Room J (Sheraton New York)
Manan Desai, Syracuse University
The rise of the digital humanities and the growing presence of digital archives provide exciting opportunities for developing scholarship both for a broader public, and with it.  Formed in 2008, the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), an online repository for materials pertaining to the South Asian diaspora in the United States, has become one such resource. In this presentation, I explain how SAADA's digital-only approach to creating a community-based archive reimagines the potential of the archive in the digital era: First, I discuss the possibilities and challenges in "post-custodial" archival practices, which allow original archival materials to remain with the individuals, organizations, and institutions from which they originate while making digital copies for offline preservation and access online. In using this approach, SAADA dramatically opens up the possibilities of individual and institutional collaboration in access, use, and preservation. Second, I discuss SAADA's "First Days Project," a digital participatory microhistory platform that allows users to contribute narratives about arrival in the United States directly to the SAADA website.  In looking at these key features of SAADA, the paper charts out new directions for creating digital tools that can better involve the publics and communities most directly connected to the histories we study.
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation