Ohio University Libraries will welcome Dr. Tarez Graban, an associate professor of English from Florida State University, for a two-day event where she will discuss critical thinking in teaching and researching using primary sources, especially archival materials. The activities scheduled for the event will center around Graban’s guest lecture, “Vandals in the Stacks: Decolonizing the Archives,” on Thursday, Oct. 11 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.
In addition to the guest lecture there will be a discussion Thursday morning from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. between Graban and faculty about the use and curricular integration of archival materials, featuring a hands-on interaction with materials from the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, the Fine Arts Library and the Kennedy Museum of Art. Faculty, teaching assistants and instructors interested in attending the event please RSVP Miriam Intrator.
Other events include a lunch with Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies faculty and graduate students, where they will read and discuss a text by Graban, and a Friday morning discussion between Graban and students in ENG 7910 about archives, pedagogy and publishing.
According to Sherri Saines, subject librarian for the social sciences, Graban’s experience with research and teaching in the fields of rhetoric and composition, digital humanities, feminist rhetorical theory, transnationalism, and multilingual writing, has made her an invaluable authority on the topics she’ll be discussing during the activities scheduled for Oct. 11 and 12.
For Saines, the decision to bring Graban to Ohio University was easy. Although it was their relationship as friends and colleagues that initially sparked the idea to bring Graban to campus, it was her [Graban’s] book on feminist rhetoric and archives, “Women’s Irony: Rewriting Feminist Rhetorical Histories,” that led Saines to formally invite her to speak on her experience with research and archival materials.
“Dr. Graban is a professor of rhetoric, and she’s done research in many different directions, but we invited her because a large part of her work has been done in and about archives. So, the kinds of things that we find in our special collections, the kinds of things that many academic libraries have in their special collections, she has investigated with an eye, a feminist eye, towards rhetoric,” Saines said.
Graban’s most recent work is centered around decolonizing archives in and about southern African countries, especially when they are put to use by scholars who work transnationally. This work is part of the inspiration for the title of the event, “Vandals in the Stacks: Decolonizing the Archives.” In her work, Graban investigates the possibilities and problems that occur when some groups have the ability to control the physical evidence of the past and present activities of other groups. While there are ethics in place to guide and increase collaboration between archives and indigenous communities, in her talk she will discuss the challenges of working in an archival space that is not indigenous, but is “shared,” as well as a host of other topics, including how to increase usage of archival materials amongst students and faculty.
“In this context, it [decolonizing the archives] means delinking the archive from certain geographical expectations or geopolitical assumptions—not limiting our expectations of what certain archived figures or groups can or cannot do in our remembrances of them, based on the nature of how they get remembered,” Graban said.
It is also Saines’ hope that Graban’s experience will help Ohio University to take another step forward in the direction of digital humanities. She also believes that this two-day event will be a good way for people, who have no experience in archives, to get involved. According to Saines, the topic of archives is an interesting one, and has something for everyone.
“In my ideal world the faculty and staff who talk to Dr. Graban will come away saying, ‘I have a brand-new idea about how I’m going to use archival materials in my research, in my class,’ or even, ‘I have a brand-new idea about what the archives are and what they mean.’ Either of those two things would be successful outcomes in my mind,” Saines said.