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Monica De La Torre

Monica De La Torre is a PhD student in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington. As a Ford Foundation Fellow she is completing her dissertation, “Feminista Frequencies: Tuning-In to Chicana Radio Activism in the Pacific Northwest, 1975-1990.” She recently published, “Programas Sin Vergüenza (Shameless Programs): Mapping Chicanas in Community Radio in the 1970s” in the fall 2015 issue of WSQ: The 1970s.

Roundtable: Archivista Praxis” 
This dialogue brings together members of the University of Washington Libraries’ Women Who Rock: Making Scenes, Building Communities Oral History Archive Collective to discuss archivista praxis as a powerful way to create more access to production, participation, musicology, and music criticism for intersectional gender research. WWR challenges gendered social inequalities through what we call archivista praxis. This praxis is rooted in a method of convivencia, the deliberate convening that builds community, creates a context for social justice work, and inspires new forms of knowledge by preserving collective voices that challenge the status quo.

Michelle Habell-Pallán introduces the ethics of “doing” collective oral histories, and how we became immersed in digital archive content collection, design, development, production, and developed what we call archivista praxis. Riffing on the concept of the artivista, “archivistas” fuse archivist and activist practices to rethink the collective possibilities of the archive, deliberately employing a networked archive as a tool to document and create the conditions of possibility for social change. In the process, we imagine ways to avoid turning human experience and collective voices into soulless data.

Monica De La Torre discusses how Chicanas in the 1970s in the Pacific Northwest on community radio airwaves altered the cultural landscape of public broadcasting by reaching women farmworkers who had never before been directly addressed by radio. In order to excavate the hidden histories of Chicanas in community radio, she remixes artifacts—oral histories, newspaper articles, radio station program guides—to collect artifacts and build archives where none exist.

Angelica Macklin will focus on digital media practices, methodology, and archivista frameworks in relation to building the Women Who Rock Oral History Archive and making media that supports music and social justice movements. As a filmmaker and Women Who Rock media-maker, Macklin uses “story keeping” as a methodology of caretaking of important personal, familial, and communal voices and stories. She mixes short-film form and new media methods with feminist processes of recording, producing, sharing, and archiving oral histories. The digital archive is a trace of the relationships forged through collective archiving or archivista praxis. Macklin will utilize examples of new digital scholarship based built on the archive to consider how we might overturn conventional modes of research that privilege individual findings over collective process.

Iris Viveros considers the decolonial possibilities for use of archival material collected under colonial ethos for academic research by proposing what she calls theor-ethical-based scholarship, one that utilizes Indigenous research methodologies, feminist theories, and archivista practices. This method and praxis reflects upon power dynamics that challenge colonial legacies of knowledge construction and legitimization to decolonize the archive and imagine ways that scholarly research about local communities might benefit, rather than harm, these communities. Viveros moves from her experiences as a scholar and practitioner of fandango––an Afroindigenous community-based music and dance tradition from Veracruz, Mexico––to illustrate the power of participatory music practices in the development and theorization of process-based decolonial research methodologies. She applies Indigenous methodologies to analyze audio recordings of Mixteca healer Maria Sabina’s chants––sung during the mushrooms ceremonies in Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca––collected unethically by Robert Gordon Wasson, an ethnomusicologist who studied these ceremonies between 1950-1980.

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