American Archivist Brown Bag Lunch Cancelled

August 2, 2019—The Council of the Society of American Archivists, at its August 1 meeting, voted to cancel a scheduled American Archivist brown bag lunch session focused on the article “To Everything There is a Season” by Frank Boles. One of the core values of the Society is to “[foster] an open and inclusive culture of creativity, collaboration, and experimentation across the association.” This value is reflected in the theme for the 2019 Joint Annual Meeting. As noted in the Call for Program Proposals, the Program Committee has focused heavily on developing a program that features speakers who question how we as archivists are “navigating power dynamics, facilitating transparency, preserving the histories of transgender and other marginalized communities, or researching transnational records to actively transform our pedagogy and practice, and how do our actions affect the people and communities we serve.”

The Program Committee and the Society have focused on providing a welcoming environment for all attendees at the annual meeting. The Council believes that giving a platform to the article noted above at this conference contradicts this effort to be inclusive. As SAA’s Archivists and Archives of Color Section has stated, the decision to discuss the article at the brown bag session “has cast a pall over the conference proceedings by choosing to forefront controversy as opposed to collaboration and conversation.” Additionally, the decision to take RSVPs for the brown bag event unintentionally created the impression that the discussion was meant to be an exclusive activity. While this decision was made solely for the purpose of ensuring sufficient space for attendees, it instead contributed to a feeling of alienation.

The SAA Council suggests that Joint Annual Meeting attendees explore one of the other brown bag lunch discussions or open forums that are scheduled on Sunday, August 4, at noon. These discussions align with the Society’s organizational priorities and strategic plan.