I met Erica Lopez at the AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists) conference in Pittsburgh, PA. It was November of 2016.
It was a really weird situation because the actual conference was amazing. Some of the best panels I’ve ever experienced at AMIA. But we were all so goddamn numb because of the election results that we were somewhere between zombie, “Is this real life?” and wanting to go to sleep forever or the next 4 years (whichever came first).
But I met Erica Lopez and it was just remarkable. She’s an incredible woman and a real asset to the archiving and preservation field.
Erica got in touch with me just before she graduated and told me what her thesis was going to be about and I was floored.
Her title, as presented, is Mi Voz: [email protected] Self-Representation in Home Movies, and this was the description that was posted in the schedule for NYU MIAP thesis presentations. “The portrayal of [email protected] in the media has been constructed by stereotypes that attempt to suppress their voice. This thesis will focus on home movies of [email protected], primarily on Mexican-American/ [email protected] communities. These movies challenge, threaten and question stereotypes of [email protected] because these are images of self-representation. This thesis will look at different collections of home movies, specifically looking at the content, film format, the year they were shot and the year they were acquired in a cultural institution. The thesis will also consider how this community is represented in metadata since Mexican-American, [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] are labels that connote problematic issues. The thesis will end with a case study on The Fuentes Collection of home movies, which has been added to the National Film Registry’s list. After giving an historical background of the Fuentes family, I will discuss how they represent life in a border-town-space.”
I genuinely love home movies but let’s get real: the ones that most people see and the stereotype of the “Home Movie” is pretty damn white.
Home Movies are not white. Looking at those in the US, they are African American. They are Japanese American. They are Mexican American. They are Italian American. They are Pilipino American. So why do we just imagine blond babies toddling by the Christmas tree while Dad drinks a beer when we consider the “home movie”?
Erica Lopez is subverting the dominant paradigm by saying: I’m looking at Mexican Home Movies, movies that people have been ignoring. Films that have been sitting there because they are of people of color, cultures who have systematically disparaged and considered “less than” by a structure that still requires fixing. Erica Lopez is a critical scholar in this area. She did exactly what archival professionals are supposed to do: she saw a void in our field and said, “Oh hell no. I’m gonna fix that!”
Full disclosure: Erica is one of my best friends. So of course I’m going to say amazing things about her. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to praise her scholarship or social justice passion if it wasn’t present. That would not fit my ethical guidelines for myself and how I live my life.
I invite you to listen to this podcast that I did with a woman who continues to impress me the longer I know her. I think you’ll enjoy it.
I know we enjoyed doing it.
Archivist’s Alley is a safe conversational podcast space designed for casual and lively discussions about how to preserve our work and identities in the professional landscapes and media that we work and create in. It is an open and dynamic arena to talk about archival ideas, new projects and to celebrate the power of each guest’s voice as a critical part of this community and our world at large.
Archivist’s Alley is a collection of voices gathered from the world of the lesser represented or marginalized populations in media or media preservation. These voices are women’s voices, queer voices, trans voices, non-binary voices and voices of color. These are indigenous voices and the voices of the differently abled.
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Originally published on Archivist’s Alley reprinted with permission of the author.
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