Jun. 20th, 2013 04:11 pm
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (marxist feminist)
My family is preparing for a move (yes, that does mean there's job news--no, I can't tell you yet, because I'm being paranoid about wanting a physical contract in my actual hands with relevant signatures, and university bureaucracies do not excel at doing that quickly), so I'm cleaning out a bunch of stuff. Some of this is tedious, like wading through every shirt I own and deciding which are keepers, which are in good enough condition to be sold or donated, and which are in such terrible shape they need to go to the fabric recycling. Some of them are stunningly productive, like reading through the back issues of all those journals that have been piling up around my house, and entering citations for useful things into relevant folders. And some of them are just weird.

In the weird category goes this one: I've mailed off a huge box of stuff to the Library & Resource Center at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI. I've been increasingly involved with the Museum since 2011, when I visited for the first time to attend a conference, and ended up volunteering for the Arab American Book Awards. I had two large boxes of newspapers, flyers, chant sheets from protests, and other assorted pieces of paper sitting in the corner of my wife's office left over from my dissertation research, because, like a good researcher, I saved everything. But it was time to shed some weight. So I went through, sorted it into piles, and dropped it in the mail to their archivist, Liz Skene.

The weird thing about this is twofold. On the one hand, it really means I'm done with my dissertation. I mean, sure, I've got to get the book out, but that's a matter of revision; by sending these documents away, it means I'm not going to sit around and translate those newspaper articles, I'm not going to perform an elaborate reading on the graphics on that poster, I'm not going to do any of those things. I'm closing that door, and turning to the next one, to see what it's got in it.

The other weird thing here is that it presupposes that what I've got is meaningful. There's someone out there, in the world, who might want to look at these documents later. Some other scholar might get something useful out of them. That seems terribly self-aggrandizing and self-important. And yet, it's also part of how the historical record is made: what gets put into archives, shoved into boxes in attics, passed down from generation to generation is how we figure out what happened at previous points in time. If, fifty years from now, someone wants to do research on how the Arab community in Brooklyn has grown or changed over time, those two file boxes of papers will be invaluable data.

I both want to claim that my work is important enough to do this--that it's worth publishing, that my primary sources are worth looking at, that there's unexplored data in there--and I feel the tiniest bit imposter-syndrome about it. But I pushed through that. And now there are some boxes in Dearborn with my name on them.

And that's a little awesome.

Fellow researchers, have you ever sent some of your documents and data to an archive? How did you choose what to do, or where to send it? (For instance, none of my fieldnotes went, because they contain people's legal names, and I'd want to obscure them before archiving; I would have liked to archive my papers in NYC, but the AANM is a dedicated thematic archive, and I think that gives them a better chance of being found by an interested party in the future.) Have you ever used archived data and been either glad it was there, or pissed off that All The Wrong Things Get Saved?
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (bridge)
The 2010 Census is a major topic among Arab-Americans; they're one of the one of the historically undercounted ethnic groups that the Census Bureau has reached out to, and Arab-American institutions are being heavily recruited to help ensure Arabs get counted. (Of course, I'm also interested in the Census personally, since I don't get counted so well either.) I've seen three interesting things in this regard lately.

Ray Hanania, 'You ain't white!', and posters at the library )
ajnabieh: Sign for a store reading "Hot Chick." (hot chick)
Among the many things I love about living in Brooklyn is the Brooklyn Public Library system. It's huge; it's everywhere; they own just about everything that I could ever hope to find not in an academic library. And, more to the point, there's a branch four blocks from my house.

Read more... )


ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
Ajnabieh - The Foreigner

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