Gonzaba – Question 4
4What is the relationship between social protest and social-protest archiving?
Doctoral Candidate – George Mason University Creator – Trump Protest Archive
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 I’m a historian at heart, and I’m fascinated by the work we do as historians. Is there such a thing as apolitical history? For decades, those who see history as either an objective or a subjective field have debated this question. As for myself, I firmly believe that no historian is perfectly objective. Historians are political beings. Fun fact: everyone is a political being. When a Supreme Court nominee tells a Senate committee that he is not influenced by politics when reaching a decision, it is, in the words of a former vice president, a bunch of malarkey. The fact that we are all political beings means that it is unrealistic to expect historians to produce totally impartial historical narratives. But this does not mean we should not be true to our sources and strive to represent multiple points of view in our accounts.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 I initially worried that the Trump Protest Archive would be seen as a partisan tool against the new president. I have worked hard to keep the goals of the site as neutral and nonpartisan as possible. To be sure, the site mostly documents resistance activities rooted in left-of-center politics, and its contributors are mostly people drawn to “liberal” causes such as criminal justice reform, reproductive rights, and LGBT-rights issues. Additionally, the site encourages submissions of protests from the entire spectrum of resistance to the current political order of the United States. Judging by the fierce divisions among Republicans in the 2016 GOP primaries, certainly some resistance from the right against President Trump exists. This does not mean the archive would reject inclusions of resistance from the right. Indeed, we would like to include more material from Trump supporters who have participated in the widespread counterprotests both before and after the election
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 1 It would be inaccurate to suggest that my own commitment to social justice did not influence my decision to build the Trump Protest Archive. Still, as historians and archivists, we are guided by the lessons and ethics of our professions to build inclusive collections that hopefully represent our subject matter fairly. Inevitably, whether we support the Trump Administration’s policies or not, the archive will have dealt with materials many will consider controversial or offensive. That might mean signs from protestors and counterprotestors disparaging Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Our mission as historians and archivists is to document and better make sense of these movements regardless of our political leanings. In an archive almost exclusively built by materials submitted by the public, a commitment to social justice and democratic principles means representing fairly the diverse voices of protest, whether or not the curatorial team finds some of those voices distasteful.