“To Suddenly Discover Yourself Existing”: Uncovering the Impact of Community Archives

This article reports on interviews conducted with South Asian American educators regarding their responses to the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), an independent, nonprofit, community-based organization that operates the websites www.saada.org and www.firstdaysproject.org. The article reports on several emergent themes: the absence of or difficulty in accessing historical materials related to South Asian Americans before the emergence of SAADA; the affective and ontological impacts of discovering SAADA for the first time; the affective impact of SAADA on respondents’ South Asian American students; and SAADA’s ability to promote feelings of inclusion both within the South Asian American ethnic community and in the larger society. Together, these responses suggest the ways in which one community archives counters the symbolic annihilation of the community it serves and instead produces feelings of what the authors term “representational belonging.” The article concludes by exploring the epistemological, ontological, and social levels of representational belonging.

Caswell, M., Cifor, M., & Ramirez, M. H. (2016). “To Suddenly Discover Yourself Existing”: Uncovering the Impact of Community Archives. The American Archivist, 79(1), 56–81. https://doi.org/10.17723/0360-9081.79.1.56