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Laura Helton “On Decimals, Lists, and Racial Imaginaries of the Archive: Cataloging a Negro Collection, circa 1930”

When Oct 16, 2015
from 03:00 PM to 04:30 PM
Where W23 Pattee Library
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This paper traces Dorothy Porter’s tenure as curator of Howard University’s Moorland Collection beginning in 1930. Unpacking Porter's classification and cataloging work, it asks what was at stake in codifying blackness as an information system.  Challenging gendered presumptions about intellectual labor that have obscured her influence, this paper shows how Porter rewrote taxonomies and delineated the capaciousness and complexity of the African diaspora as an intellectual universe.  In creating systems for readers to access that universe, Helton argues, Porter expanded the questions readers could ask of the black past as an object of inquiry and affiliation.


 

**The paper will be pre-circulated.  For a copy, please write to laura.helton@psu.edu.