Colloquium 9/30

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After Professor Kunzel's presentation on patient archives from St. Elizabeth's hospital in DC, members of the audience raised questions concerning the ethics of her work- reading extremely private accounts of patient experience and personal narratives. Folks, Professor Kunzel included, were interested in knowing how to do this type of excavation responsibly, honoring the individuals that were held subject to the normative agenda of this particular institution. Understanding the psychiatric work and psychoanalysis performed to save patients deemed sexually deviant as a form of state violence, the return to these archives bares with it a queer justice project. When working with such intimate materials, the archivist has the privilege of responsibility in determining what purpose this project will serve. The archivist has the ability to reappropriate this material, for lack of a more appropriate word to describe this information, from the state. Questions that I am interested in exploring, ones that intersect with the question of how to do this type of work responsibly, is how will this project make the patients, it's subjects, visible in a way that they can be read as agents, despite their missing participation. Professor Kunzel, demonstrated incredible respect for the projects and the individuals involved. I am excited and curious to know what future execution of this project will involve. As I see Professor Kunzel holding herself accountable to this project, I wonder also what accountability might look like for the state?

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