Diversity Award: Maya from the Margins Archives Project

Maya from the Margins is a 2018 recipient of the Diversity Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award recognizes outstanding contributions in advancing diversity within the archives profession, SAA, or the archival record.

Maya from the Margins is a collaborative project developed at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill by Dr. Patricia A. McAnany, Dr. Gabrielle Vail, Dr. Iván Batun-Alpuche, and Douglas “Biff” Hollingsworth with the support of the indigenous-focused nonprofit InHerit, the UNC-Chapel Hill anthropology department, and the UNC-Chapel Hill University Libraries’s Southern Historical Collection (SHC). The project engages high school youth with Latinx and indigenous roots in North Carolina and Yucatán, México, in exploring their complex identity and heritage, focusing on the topics of language, history, and migration. Participants visit the SHC and the State Archives of Yucatán and collaboratively curate a travelling exhibit displayed at both sites. The project models public engagement through its humanities framework, pursues civically engaged scholarship, and engages the community directly through participatory archival research. The project has set many new opportunities in motion as well, including new projects in Yucatan with the National Geographic Society and in the Imbabura region of Ecuador, which continue to build on the work of Maya from the Margins.

One supporter noted that “Maya from the Margins offers valuable insights into how archives serve an important function of diplomacy, welcome, and inclusion. It’s a model that lowers the barriers to entry not just into our archives, but into our communities and the profession at large.” Another supporter wrote, “Maya from the Margins has prompted archives colleagues to think differently about how we might work together; it has inspired students to embrace the value of archives and even seek work in archives settings; and it has challenged educators in high schools and colleges to see archives as the place where knowledge can best be co-created with a range of user communities.”