Joyce Gabiola, Candidate for Council

Joyce Gabiola

Head Archivist
Central to my work as an archivist, a decision maker, co-worker, and mentor is being aware of how I hold power and identifying ways I can use that power to advocate for or support others. This includes intervening in policies and archival, educational, and pedagogical practices that reproduce harm.



Central to my work as an archivist, a decision maker, co-worker, and mentor is being aware of how I hold power and identifying ways that I can use that power to advocate for or support others. This includes intervening in policies and archival, educational, and pedagogical practices that reproduce harm. When I have the capacity, I intentionally confront oppressive behavior to denormalize its harmful effects, which are permitted through policies and classist, racist marks of "professionalism." But perhaps most importantly, you should know that "dad" jokes are my superpower.

Currently, I work as the head archivist of Lambda Archives of San Diego, a LGBTQ+ nonprofit community archives; a founding editor of up//root, which publishes (and compensates for) research, meditations, and creative works by BIPOC while centering wellbeing throughout the publication process; and a mentor for the Association of Research Libraries Diversity Program.

My most recent service to SAA was on the 2021 Appointments Committee, invited by SAA President Courtney Chartier, and co-chair of the 2019 Annual Meeting Program Committee, invited by Past President Dr. Meredith Evans. However, my service to archives and libraries is perpetual as I intervene and provide support in various ways, particularly for BIPOC who navigate institutional power structures, including the insidiousness that can emerge through institutionalized "diversity" efforts and institution-serving acts of "social justice."

My latest contributions to archival discourse are my solo-authored piece, "(En)countering the Archival Sidekick", published in Q&A: Voices from Queer Asian America (Temple University Press, July 2021), and an article forthcoming in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of American Archivist (Gabiola, et al.) about representation, embedded power structures, and community agency to subvert documentation. (Thank you, accidental Reviewer #4, for your especially encouraging comments.)



Each candidate prepared a diversity statement according to SAA guidelines.

As a queer, nonbinary Filipinx person of color (POC) raised in a middle class household in Texas, led by two immigrant, degree-holding parents who paid for college for my two siblings and me, I grew up with class privilege and I continue to benefit from it. I hold privilege and power in different ways, and this impacts the decisions I make in life, including how Lambda Archives is proactively trying to reduce or prevent the reproduction of harm in its spaces, practices, and policies.

I no longer advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), at least not directly, because I’ve come to understand that institutionalized DEI is a commodity and a tool that institutions profit from and use to prevent insurgence. Archives and organizations operate with the understanding that the lack of diversity is the problem, rather than the ways in which unchecked cis whiteness and ableism, even among self-identified radicals, reproduce harm. Institutional policies do not hold people accountable for their repeated racist, ableist, anti-LGBTQ+ (in)actions. These understandings are informed, based on in part, by my lived experiences as a master’s student at a predominantly white institution, a PhD student at an institution where I wasn’t underrepresented, my once enthusiastic participation on diversity committees at both institutions, and navigating those academic and archival spaces as a queer POC. Through these experiences, I know—front and center—what Mario Ramirez asserted in his 2015 American Archivist article, "Being Assumed Not to Be: Critiquing Whiteness as an Archival Imperative": “Diversity is allowed to thrive only if it refrains from challenging the ability of whiteness to control it.”

On the SAA Council, I will approach my responsibilities as I do in other spaces. Some questions I use as a guide are:

  • In what way(s) might my (in)action or decision cause harm? 
  • How can I redistribute power and push money to marginalized people without insisting they prove their worthiness of funding by recounting their life’s struggles? 
  • How can I help create new opportunities or support existing ones for BIPOC that are not dictated by cis whiteness? 
  • Am I prioritizing wellbeing? 
  • Am I intervening in or perpetuating the status quo?

I remain aware of the ways in which I hold power and will use it to intervene in policies and practices that reproduce harm. On SAA Council, I would like to begin working toward implementing a system of accountability that responds to racist, ableist, anti-LGBTQ behavior and, with the help of fellow Council members, I will work toward keeping SAA accountable.



The tragic and thought-provoking events of the past year and a half have indelibly impacted the world and our profession, and carved out a space for projects and initiatives that challenge and amplify the historical record, and foreground the urgency of equity and inclusion. How would you bring this growing investment in social justice to bear as a Council member and support diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within SAA, the Council, and among the general membership? How would you help promote and implement the SAA Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility?


In addition to my biographical statement, I’ll share insight into some of the "smaller" ways that I might use my power toward preventing or reducing harm in policies, practices, and the spaces in which we interact. First, along with intentionally creating SAA's 2019 Annual Meeting program to prominently feature POC on stage to share their expertise/work, I recommended that SAA:

  • Hire a consultant to help create a fragrance-free conference environment; 
  • Offer complimentary registration to attendees who identify within the LGBTQ+ community and/or were impacted by a travel ban that prohibits employees from using state funds to travel to Texas because of its anti-LGBT laws; 
  • Add a required field on the registration form for pronouns to help reduce incidents of misgendering; and 
  • Invite (and compensate) speakers of color whose work is relevant to archives: Mia Mingus, self-identified as queer, disabled, Korean adoptee, writer, and disability and transformative justice educator; Tourmaline, a trans, Black filmmaker, writer, and activist; Dr. Ashley Farmer, author of the viral Chronicle of Higher Education essay, “Archiving While Black”; Gabriel Solis of the Texas After Violence Project; and Alok Vaid-Menon, a nonbinary performance artist, writer, and educator.

For years, I have been tackling parts of the Work Plan on DEI and Accessibility, as a SAA member, directing a LGBTQ community archives, and as an editor:

  • [1.1] Inclusive job descriptions: A stated requirement for Lambda staff is to have some level of comfort to discuss how archives intersect race, racism, ableism, class, settler colonialism, and/or white supremacy. Also, unpaid work is identified as relevant experience, as well as parenting. 
  • [1.5] Recruit diverse students: The founding editors of up//root intentionally sought undergraduate or master’s students to become full editors to provide an opportunity to gain experience/skills and to hold decision-making power, which is rarely reserved for students. 
  • [2.3] Inclusive conference CFPs: The 2019 CFP stated that we would take into account proposals that explored a topic that places presenters in a vulnerable position; challenge dominant or status quo ways of thinking and doing; and/or address positions of privilege and power (e.g., whiteness, ability, heteronormativity, class structures) when discussing DEI. We also requested positionality statements. 
  • [2.7] Inclusive/accessible spaces/services: Along with fragrance-free conference environments, I plan to advocate that all annual meetings take place in cities with non-discrimination ordinances that include gender identity. 
  • [3.0-3.4] Education and resources for archivists (and training for SAA staff) re DEI, anti-racism, etc.: Lambda is developing a system of practice (and culture) for staff, interns and board members to know how structural racism and cis whiteness manifest in archives. We are currently working on a SAA-funded project, "Addressing Harm as an Archival Imperative." On Council, I would advise that SAA obtain an equity audit to identify urgent areas with steps forward. 
  • [4.2] Building and sustaining relationships with BIPOC communities to better support community archives is at the forefront of what I do as head archivist of a community archives. On SAA Council or not, I will help build a system in which well-resourced archival institutions share their power with under-resourced community archives to provide meaningful, tangible support.



Slate of Candidates

The Nominating Committee has slated the following SAA members as candidates for office in the 2022 election:

Vice President/President-Elect


Nominating Committee