On June 6th, 2013, the Living Archives presented the paper “Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada: Oral History & Technology as Public and Academic Resources.” This presentation was given at the 41st annual conference of the Canadian Association of Information Science (CAIS-ASCI), at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, as part of Congress 2013 for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The purpose of CAIS is to promote the advancement of information science in Canada, including the exchange of information relating to use, access, retrieval, organization, management, and dissemination of information. Members include information professionals such as archivists, librarians, compter scientists, psychologists, etc.
The theme for CAIS 2013 was “Tales from the Edge: Narrative Voices in Information Research and Practice,” and showcased leading edge research and practice revolving around narrative. The Living Archives Project deals strongly with methods of narrative, as the project involves capturing not only archival documents related to eugenics and its history in Western Canada, but the oral history of eugenics in Western Canada as well. Further, LAE seeks to bring the narrative of eugenics in Western Canada to the public and academic researchers alike, through initiatives such as the development of high school modules, and an interactive, multimedia website, which showcases these materials in new, accessible, and innovative ways.
Led by Moyra Lang, Project Co-ordinator, the talk covered a brief history of eugenics in Western Canada, some information about the formation of the project, and an overview of the research methods used in producing the project deliverables, described above. These methods include an interactive and phenomenological framework, with auto-ethnographical approaches, in the creation of oral history video interviews (which are edited by interviewees themselves); and grounded theory in the use of “memo-ing,” a process of recording thoughts and ideas immediately after conducting an interview, in order to help improve the process. Special attention was give to efforts on the part of the project to provide a safe environment for these oral interviews to take place, and of the development of accessible materials (both digitally and physically through physical spaces used for events). The talk was co-developed with technical team research assistant, Colette Leung.
For a full list of conference proceedings, including a short abstract, see the CAIS Programme here.