I am Marika Cifor, a PhD Candidate in Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). I am also completing Certificates in Gender Studies and the Digital Humanities. My research investigates how archives, records, new media, and data can be deployed in support of social justice concerns and movements. Grounded in critical theory and cultural studies, my interdisciplinary work focuses on developing complex understandings of how marginalized individuals and communities come to define themselves, their social groups and movements, and their past, present and future through archives, new media, and data produced within digital cultures.
My dissertation is entitled “‘Your Nostalgia is Killing Me’: Activism, Affect and the Archives of HIV/AIDS.” This project examines the critical potential of the emotions and memories that are recorded and produced by archives documenting 1980s and 1990s HIV/AIDS activism in the United States. Using archival ethnography as a methodology, my analysis is grounded in a series of archival collections and collaborations between activists, artists, and archivists. These materials are culled from the New York Public Library, New York University, and Visual AIDS, a community-based arts organization that raises AIDS awareness through visual art, assisting HIV/AIDS affected artists, and preserving artists’ work. With attention to the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, and ability, my inquiry focuses on the development of these collections and the relationships of activists to their materials and of archivists to the communities implicated in their records. I also analyze contemporary activists’ and artists’ creative use and reuse of these archival records in producing knowledge, provoking dialogue, and supporting ongoing movements to end AIDS. The dissertation illuminates the significant roles of archives in HIV/AIDS activism and art, as well as in nostalgia and cultural memory processes for audiences in American studies, cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, information studies, and memory studies.
My work is grounded in my training in the humanities and employs a variety of methods from both the humanities and the social sciences, such as semi-structured interviews, participant observation, discourse analysis, historiography, and action research. I hold an MS in Library and Information Science and an MA in History from Simmons College and a BA in History and Political, Legal, and Economic Analysis from Mills College. I have also utilized new kinds of scholarly products, such as websites, data visualizations, and other kinds of digital documents as part of the digital humanities community at UCLA.