Jennifer Douglas

Associate Professor

Research Interests

Personal recordkeeping and archives
Person-centred archival theory and practices
Grief and recordkeeping and archives
Emotions and recordkeeping and archives
Archival arrangement and description

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.


Doctoral students
Any time / year round

Personal and/or community archives and recordkeeping; grief and recordkeeping and archives; archival creation; archival representation. 

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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Archives for a new world : revolutionary personal records in the Filipino-Canadian diaspora (2023)

The aim of this thesis is to investigate the relationship between personal records and politics in members of the Filipino diaspora living in Canada. The author conducted semi-structured interviews with their mother and three fellow activists, and used qualitative coding and personal writing as methods of analysis. The thesis applies archival theories of haunting, imagined records, corollary records, personal records, community archives, and other social justice-oriented archival theories through the lens of historical materialism to conclude that: (1) records, as items and aggregations, are embodied records of class struggle; (2) custody over and access to records is a form of political power; and (3) records are created in and by historical contexts of contradiction.

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"The Days are Long, but the Years are Short": Records of New Parenthood in the Pandemic (2022)

No abstract available.

'How do we pronounce our skin in English' : records of transracial, transnational adoption and their implications for archival work (2022)

In the last decade, archival scholars have begun to deeply reflect upon the experiences of individuals and communities as they interact with administrative and bureaucratic records. What they have found is that there is a significant gap between the emotional experiences of records activators and the experiences that archival repositories are prepared to address. Emerging from these realizations is a call for archivists to better understand the experiences of the personal-in- the-bureaucratic and to take up reparative, caring, and rights-based frameworks in order to respond to these previously unaddressed needs. This thesis builds of existing case studies and concepts within community, personal, and reparative archival spaces and explores the records experiences of a community that has not yet been significantly studied within the discipline: adoptees. Through semi-structured interviews that utilize oral history and object elicitation techniques, this thesis maps out connections between transracial, transnational adoptee experiences of their records and scholarship from the field of adoption studies that examine strategies for constructing identity and a sense of belonging and seeks to connect it to archival concepts of the relational, the silent, and the imaginary. Ultimately, in addition to acting as a space for participants to share their stories—which directly demonstrate the ability of records to both create and collapse space for unanswerable questions—this thesis seeks to take up existing calls to archivists and recordkeepers to consider the impact of the bureaucratic on the personal and how addressing personal-within-the-institutional experiences of records is an urgent and necessary facet for consideration as we move forward into more caring practice.

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Queerkadeh, an alternative community-based archives on Instagram: an autoethnographic case study leveraging Queer/ed Archival Methodology (2022)

Through this work I examine the potential of queer/ed archival methodology, also known as Q/M, developed by Jamie A. Lee, in creating intersectional and dynamic archival spaces. I attempt this inquiry by examining the decisions that led to developing and maintaining a digital archival space for storytelling on Instagram in Farsi, @queerkadeh, for queer people of Iranian and Afghan descent, as well as anyone who has access to Farsi and self identifies as queer. As a co-creator of @queerkadeh, I have closely examined the decisions that gave life to @queerkadeh, as well as the rationale behind them. I have analyzed these decisions and my processes of sense-making through the framework of the Q/M. Thinking through the seven areas of focus outlined in the Q/M framework, as well as engaging with critical archival theory, I shine a light on the process of creating a digital archival space on Instagram that is grounded in theory and examine the flexibility of the queer/ed archival methodology approach and its potential contribution to creating spaces that serve and represent diverse intersectional communities. In this thesis, I demonstrate the flexibility of the Q/M approach and the opportunities that Instagram provide for an intersectional community such as mine whose very existence is constantly questioned, ignored, and overlooked. It is my hope that by continuing this line of questioning, archival scholars and practitioners can continue imagining alternative archival spaces that are “attentive to bodies in motion, archival and otherwise, and nomadic subjectivities—those meandering ways of knowing and being.”1

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Archivalism: developing a new way to interpret stories about the archive (2021)

Archivists and archival records play integral roles as plot devices in many significant works of popular culture entertainment. In one example, George R.R. Martin's medieval-inspired book series A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) and its television adaptation, HBO's Game of Thrones (GoT), I have observed that records, archives, and archivists repeatedly contribute to forwarding the plot by providing critical pivot points for significant transitions in the story. Some archival scholars critique the way archivists and archival institutions are represented in pop culture contexts, citing overused stereotypes that unfairly or inaccurately represent archivists and the archival profession. Medievalist scholars have observed a similar phenomenon in popular representations of the Middle Ages. The field of medievalism studies - which examines the relationship between the historical Middle Ages and how it has been viewed, written about, and used as a backdrop in both popular and scholarly media – inspired me to consider archival representations in the same way. I call this the concept of archivalism, a term I coined that I define as the study of the relationship between perceptions of the archive, as expressed across a variety of media, and the real work of the archive, archivists, and archival practices. This thesis proposes the concept of archivalism as a new approach to studying the impact and perception of the archives in the cultural mindset. Paying particular attention to language and imagery used to represent archivists and archival institutions, I employ close reading of the series Game of Thrones and three different corpora of literature: studies on representations of the archives in popular culture, studies on Game of Thrones as medievalism, and stories about the archives and archival research written by scholars from disciplines outside of archival studies. I use this research to support the argument that, just as medievalist scholars have used Game of Thrones and the study of medievalism as a point of entry to medieval studies, so too can the study of archivalism be a valuable tool for educating the public about the archive, drawing more people to the field of archival studies, and inspiring interdisciplinary dialogue.

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Alternative becomings, alternative belongings: Cordillera case studies of records in context (2019)

No abstract available.

Exploring the Principle of Provenance with Social Network Analysis (2016)

Traditionally, an archival fonds is conceptualized as an aggregate of records which are mutually relevant. This mutual relevance is often attributed to the origin of member records in a common context – with this context typically understood as the context of an organization, and more specifically, a department. It is considered difficult to identify mutually relevant records in modern organizations. This difficulty is often attributed to frequent administrative changes which disrupt departmental contexts. This thesis tests a technique that aims to use the information within the records to identify a context common to a set of records. It involves extracting the name of the creator and the name of the modifier from each record, then subjecting this information to a community detection algorithm. It was hypothesized that groups of individuals who frequentlymodify one another’s records constitute a common context. After applying various community detection algorithms to the records of an organization, the resulting groups of records were presented to the staff of the organization for feedback. Staffclearly indicated that groups of records produced by the community detection algorithms were not mutually relevant. These results can be explained with reference to the works of Jenny Bunn, who argued that an autonomous community only comes into existence when constituent members engage in both “being” and “doing.” During the interviews with staff, it was clear that some algorithms produced groups of people characterized by established relationships (“being”) while others produced groups in pursuit of a joint activity (“doing”). The absence of overlap suggests there were no autonomous subcommunities in this study, and therefore, no common context by which records can be bound. Mutually relevant records can also be formed by employees in their attempts to keep records orderly. To explore this further, it was argued that constructing a folder structure is akin to constructing a narrative, with the narrative components taking the form of records. When numerous employees attempt to organize the same records using different narratives, the aggregate may seem disorderly. This thesis suggests that disentangling these narratives is amethod by which order may be restored.

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