Archivist Spotlight: Rachel E. Winston, Black Diaspora Archivist at the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections (University of Texas at Austin)

rachelwinston

Please give a brief introduction of yourself and your interests in Latin American and Caribbean cultural heritage archives.

My name is Rachel E. Winston—I am a graduate of Davidson College (Anthropology and French), the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and The University of Texas at Austin (MSIS). Throughout my educational and professional career, I’ve been passionate about representation and access within cultural institutions and in community programming initiatives. As an archivist, I’m interested in the ways in which people of color are represented, described and preserved in our institutions, and further, dismantling imposed barriers to access for these kinds of materials.

You recently started in the newly created Black Diaspora Archivist position at the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas at Austin. Tell us a little bit about the new role and your goals for collecting and establishing the Black Diaspora archive.

The Black Diaspora Archive is a collaborative initiative between UT Libraries, Black Studies and LLILAS Benson. In my role as Black Diaspora Archivist, I’m leading the university’s effort in developing a special collection that documents the Black experience throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.  One of the things I’m most excited about is being able to highlight the experiences and works of people of color as told/documented by they themselves—there’s a huge void in this space.  I’m especially grateful to be doing this work at LLILAS Benson where there is real concern for ethical collecting, social justice and post-custodial archival practice.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career? Any advice to fellow new professionals?

Getting this job! In a lot of ways, I was preparing myself for this position before it even existed and I’m looking forward the achievements the Black Diaspora Archive will make in the years to come. To those who are committed to countering or changing the narrative and creating space for others in our field—stay encouraged and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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