Decolonizing the Archive: Chicana por mi Raza and the Challenge of Digital Humanities, March 9 @University of Houston

Event Date: 
Monday, March 9, 2015 – 10:00am12:30pm
Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library, University of Houston


10:00am – Talk by Maria Cotera, University of Michigan
Decolonizing the Archive: Chicana por mi Raza and the Challenge of Digital Humanities

Focusing on the Chicana por mi Raza digital archive, a collection of oral histories and documents from women who were active in social movements during the 1960s and 1970s, this lecture explores the possibilities and challenges that are opened up by the “digital turn” in Humanities scholarship.

Cotera argues that digital archiving projects like Chicana por mi Raza challenge conventional notions of humanistic research and reformat the archive in critical ways by shifting it from a repository to an active site for the co-creation of feminist knowledge. Re-reading the archive as a site of encuentro (encounter) and exchange, Cotera explores how contemporary feminist scholars can teach and learn about the past in ways that recover lost histories and incite new, and unexpected, connections.

Maria Cotera, PhD is an associate professor who holds a joint appointment in theDepartment of Women’s Studies and the Program in American Culture at the Universityof Michigan. She served as the director for the University of Michigan’s Latina/o Studies Program from 2008 to 2011. Cotera’s first book, Native Speakers: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, Jovita González, and the Poetics of Culture, received the Gloria Anzaldúa 2009 book prize from the National Women’s Studies Association.

Cotera’s two current research initiatives include Chicana por mi Raza, a national digital humanities project that seeks to create an online interactive archive documenting Chicana Feminist praxis from 1960-1990; and El Museo del Norte, a partnership with Southwest Detroit arts and culture organizations to create a museum without walls that documents Latino history in the Midwest.

11:30am – Panel discussion
Pushing Back: Chicana, Latina, Hispanic Women Preserving Our Narratives

Panel participants will discuss the politics and implications of digitizing the archive, as well as the opportunities increased access provides.

  • Lisa Cruces joined the University of Houston Libraries as the first Hispanic Collections Archivist in 2014. Prior to this position, Cruces was a fellow with the Hesburgh Libraries at the University of Notre Dame. Along with stewarding and growing UH’s Hispanic Collections, Cruces promotes the use of archival materials in undergraduate education and an increase in community inclusivity. Her professional interests and research focus on collecting, preserving and creating access to English and Spanish language Hispanic archival collections.
  • Patricia Hernandez is a visual artist, arts educator, archivist and native Texan.She holds a BA in Art and Art History and a BFA in Painting from Rice University. She received her MFA in Painting from the University of Houston in 2000. In 2011, she began managing the DiverseWorks pilot project, Creating A Living Legacy (CALL), helping Houston artists collect and organize the records of their creative practice. She is the founder of StudioOne Archive Resource, a new service organization whose mission is to work with members of the Houston arts community to preserve their stories.
  • Carolina Villaroel, PhD is the Director of Research for University of Houston’s Arte Público Press, the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by US Latina and Latino authors. Villaroel, along with Dr. Nicolás Kanellos, leads the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, a national program that locates, identifies, preserves and makes accessible the literary contributions of US Hispanics from colonial times through 1960.

Both events are free and open to the public. Sponsored by the University of Houston’s Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, Center for Mexican American Studies, Department of English, Department of History, and Digital Humanities Initiative, along with the Houston Arts Alliance, MECA, and Humanities Texas.