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University of Michigan School of Information


Data, Archives and Information in Society (DAIS) Seminar: Gracen Brilmyer

“Data, Archives and Information Seminar Cripping Absence Thinking through the archival erasure(s) of disability  Friday, October 13, 3-4:15 pm North Quad Space 2435 and online Register to attend online at  Gracen Brilmyer (McGill University Canada)  Photo of Gracen Brilmyer  UMSI logo”

10/13/2023 3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
North Quad Space 2435 and online

Cripping Absence: Thinking through the archival erasure(s) of disability

Register to attend online

Disabled people can be erased in archival material in many ways. From records that document us in ways that deny our subjectivity and agency to the lack of records about disabled people entirely, histories of disability can be subtle, misrepresented or entirely absent in archives. Referencing the historical underpinnings of provenance, which shapes how archivists reconcile with records that have been moved, rearranged and dispersed to reconstruct a fonds, this talk illuminates the violence of archival care and its relation to the erasure of disability in the historical record. Put in conversation with disability studies scholarship which critiques rehabilitating, curing, and restoring — the concept of provenance can also be understood as a violent undertaking by archives who arbitrate access to disability history. This talk animates and builds on a crip provenance — a framework for reorienting histories with disability at the center — to address erasure through its many facets and looks to less obvious archival sources to tell a history of disability outside of the medical, asylum and often violent forms of documentation of disability. Through this approach, this talk weaves historical and empirical methods to think through the impacts of absence for disabled people, new ways of telling histories of disability and possible avenues for imagining representation otherwise.

Speaker bio
Gracen Brilmyer (they/them) is a Disabled researcher working at the intersection of feminist disability studies and archival studies. Their work investigates the erasure of disabled people in archives primarily within the history of natural history museums and colonial histories as well as how disabled people experience themselves in archival material. They are currently assistant professor at McGill University and director of the Disability Archives Lab. For more:


Space 2435 is wheelchair accessible.

Captioning will be available on video feeds and on Zoom. 

In-person attendees at this event are requested to wear face masks. Masks will be available at the door.

Fragrance free event: To make this event accessible for all guests, please refrain from wearing scented products such as perfumes/colognes, scented lotions, clothing with strong detergent scents, etc. while attending this event as they can trigger serious health issues for those with fragrance allergies. Thank you for your consideration for all members of our community. More info can be found at: