Friday, October 5, 2012 @ 4pm (local)

International Conference on New Media, Memories and Histories

Location: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore
Participant(s): Michelle Caswell
SAADA co-founder and board member, Michelle Caswell presents a paper titled "Digital Diasporas and Post-Custodial Possibilities: Building the South Asian American Digital Archive."
This paper will detail the theoretical foundations for and the ongoing challenges of building independent, online archives using the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) ( as its primary research site. SAADA is a community-based online repository that seeks to preserve and provide access to the diverse histories of the South Asian diaspora in the U.S. Employing an innovative post-custodial model in which archival materials remain in their local communities of origin, SAADA creates digital copies of records, describes them to archival standards, and makes them broadly accessible online. This distributed archival model reflects the distributed nature of the South Asian American diaspora and allows families and local communities to maintain control of archival records while at the same time soliciting broad—even global—input on collecting priorities, appraisal decisions, and description. Using the presenter’s experiences as a co-founder and board member of SAADA, this presentation will address the possibilities for marginalized communities to shape collective memory of the past and forge their own identities through grassroots archival collecting projects that employ new media to expand participation and access. The presentation will also discuss the ongoing challenges of funding, continuity, preservation, generational differences and divisive politics that can stall community-based archives and explore digital opportunities for meeting these challenges.