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Open Access Publications from the University of California

This series is automatically populated with publications deposited by UCLA Department of Information Studies researchers in accordance with the University of California’s open access policies. For more information see Open Access Policy Deposits and the UC Publication Management System.

Cover page of Technological Elites, the Meritocracy, and Postracial Myths in Silicon Valley

Technological Elites, the Meritocracy, and Postracial Myths in Silicon Valley


Among modern digital technology elites, myths of meritocracy and intellectual prowess are used as racial and gender markers of white male supremacy that disproportionately consolidate resources away from people of color, particularly African Americans, Latino/as and Native Americans. Investments in meritocratic myths suppress interrogations of racism and discrimination even as the products of digital elites are infused with racial, class, and gender markers. Longstanding struggles for social, political, and economic inclusion for African Americans, women, and other legally protected classes have been predicated upon the recognition of systemic exclusion, forced labor, and structural disenfranchisement, and commitments to US public policies like affirmative action have, likewise, been fundamental to political reforms geared to economic opportunity and participation. The rise of the digital technocracy has, in many ways, been antithetical to these sustained efforts to recognize race and gender as salient factors structuring technocratic opportunity and inclusion. This chapter explores some of the ways in which discourses of Silicon Valley technocratic elites bolster investments in post-racialism as a pretext for re-consolidations of capital, in opposition to public policy commitments to end discriminatory labor practices. Through a careful analysis of the rise of digital technology companies, and a discussion of how technology elites work to mask everything from algorithmic to genetic inscriptions of race embedded in their products, we show how digital elites elide responsibility for their post-racial re-inscriptions of racial visibilities (and invisibilities). Using historical and critical discourse analysis, the chapter reveals how myths of a digital meritocracy premised on a technocratic colorblindness emerge key to perpetuating gender and racial exclusions.

Cover page of “Come Correct or Don’t Come at All:” Building More Equitable Relationships Between Archival Studies Scholars and Community Archives

“Come Correct or Don’t Come at All:” Building More Equitable Relationships Between Archival Studies Scholars and Community Archives


This collaboratively authored white paper reports on a May 2021 two-day online workshop about the current state of academic research on community archives, its impact on communities represented and served by such organizations, and ways to envision and enact more equitable relationships moving forward. Participants included community-based archivists, advocates for community archives, academic researchers, and students. This white paper reports on key themes that emerged from this two-day workshop, and presents collaboratively-derived principles and protocols for building ethical, more equitable partnerships between academic researchers and community-based archivists in the future. Our findings surface several damaging tendencies in academic research, including: parachuting in, knowledge extraction, financial inequity, and transactional consent. We then identify nine key principles for building mutually beneficial relationships between academic researchers and community archivists: relational consent; mutual benefit; investment; humility; accountability; transparency; equity; reparation; and amplification. We then propose ways academic researchers can enact these principles via protocols for building more equitable research partnerships moving forward.

Cover page of Seeing Yourself in History: Community Archives in the Fight Against Symbolic Annihilation

Seeing Yourself in History: Community Archives in the Fight Against Symbolic Annihilation


Building on the author’s experiences as the co-founder and a board member of the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), this article posits that independent, community-based archives are crucial tools for fighting the symbolic annihilation of historically marginalized groups.

Cover page of False promise and new hope: dead perpetrators, imagined documents and emergent archival evidence

False promise and new hope: dead perpetrators, imagined documents and emergent archival evidence


When those accused of being high-level perpetrators of human rights abuse die before publicly yielding their secrets in legal and archival arenas, victims may simultaneously express relief about the perpetrator’s demise and grief that, along with it, possible crucial information about the past is lost forever. Although the accused do not usually directly admit their actions and the teasing out of what actually happened is dependent upon the complex processes of cross-examination of their testimony and of records and other forms of evidence, victims project such moments of revelation onto the public act of holding accused perpetrators to account. In their deaths, the accused become forever from-now-on unavailable and thus unassailable evidence – in essence; they are transformed into imagined documents that can never be cross-examined. In this construction, the would-be testimony of perpetrators is given epistemological validity over that of victims, offering up the false and unfulfillable promise of establishing a singular truth. Complicating this scenario, however, is the increasingly open-ended hope offered to victims, judicial processes and historians alike by the application of new forensic methods, for example, in the examination of gravesides and human remains, and by satellite footage, that are generating additional categories of evidence. Using the juridical and archival legacies of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Yugoslav Wars as case studies, this article argues that when perpetrators die before giving legal testimony, survivors and victims’ families construct them as unavailable documents with imaginary agency to settle competing versions of history. Such imagined documents enter into a complex landscape of human rights archives that has heretofore been exclusively focused on tangible evidence. First, this article frames the case of Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary, charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, who died before giving his testimony in a hybrid tribunal. In the face of diverse archival documentary evidence capable of presenting a more complete and complex picture of atrocities, it contemplates why survivors and victims’ family members placed high hopes on his potential testimony, essentially constructing him as a now-dead living document. Second, it explores a parallel case, that of the death of Slobodan Milošević while being tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and argues that the notion of a dead perpetrator as imagined document has less sway when the public has the opportunity to hear the perpetrator defend himself, regardless of the perpetrator’s own admission (or denial) of culpability. Third, it proposes the notion of imaginary documents. It argues that such imaginary documents challenge dominant conceptions of the evidentiary qualities of tangible records and the archival legacies of trauma by insisting on a more dynamic and holistic view of records that takes the affect of survivors and victims’ family members into account.

Developing a Typology of Human Rights Records


What makes a record a "human rights record"? What types of records fall under this umbrella term? How and why might we develop a typology of such records? What is at stake—ethically, theoretically, and practically—in the ways in which and the reasons why we define and classify records as such? This article seeks to answer these questions by delineating a typology of human rights records. First, this article will provide a literature review exploring the history of conceptions of human rights records in archival studies, as well as the ongoing discussion in information studies more broadly about the politics of the organization of information. Next, this paper will outline the chosen methodology of conceptual analysis and describe the ways such methodology will be employed to de/construct the term “human rights record.” This paper will then provide a typology of human rights records, positing that such records can be examined according to five interlocking vectors: who created them, why, and when, where they are currently stewarded, and how they are being put to use. This paper will then analyze two keys examples of human rights records using the proposed typology. Finally, this paper will conclude by examining the ethical, political, and professional implications of the proposed typology and suggest ways in which this rubric can be used in the future.

Cover page of From Human Rights to Feminist Ethics: Radical Empathy in Archives

From Human Rights to Feminist Ethics: Radical Empathy in Archives


Much recent discussion about social justice in archival studies has assumed a legalistic, rights-based framework to delineate the role of records, archives, and archivists in both the violation of human rights and in holding individuals and governments accountable for basic human rights, such as the right to life, privacy, and freedom of expression. Yet decades of feminist scholarship have called into question the universality of a rights-based framework, arguing instead that an ethics of care is a more inclusive and apt model for envisioning and enacting a more just society. This article proposes a shift in the theoretical model used by archivists and archival studies scholars to address social justice concerns – from that based on individual rights to a model based on feminist ethics. In a feminist ethics approach, archivists are seen as caregivers, bound to records creators, subjects, users, and communities through a web of mutual affective responsibility. This article proposes four interrelated shifts in these archival relationships, based on radical empathy.