Yingying Han's Dissertation Proposal Defense

Please join us for the proposal defense of Yingying Han's dissertation proposal, From Documentation to Liberation: Archiving Chinese Immigrants' Experiences and Envisioning a Future of Transformative Change.


Archives and archival materials are not neutral, as they often perpetuate historical prejudices, biases, and injustices that are present in the dominant narrative. Marginalized communities have been underrepresented and misrepresented in mainstream archives. Instead, community archives can potentially act as an agent for these marginalized communities to document counter-narratives. Community archives can be activated by these communities to foster a sense of representational belonging and radical empathy and evoke affective responses toward the communities’ histories and experiences, encouraging a deeper understanding of their struggles and triumphs. Additionally, community archives can be activated by communities to envision transformative changes.

The first research question I aim to answer is how Chinese immigrants in the United States and their descendants seek to preserve their history and document their experience through community archives in response of their absence of representation in mainstream archives and a desire for transformative changes. To answer this question, I specifically explore (1) what untold histories and/or counter-stories that Chinese immigrants and their descendants want to tell through their community archives; (2) how do they want to preserve and make access of their community archives; (3) what are the potential conflicts between community’s approaches to preserving their archives and conventional archival practices such as appraisal and description and how can mainstream archives learn from the insights of community archives practice. Furthermore, building upon the framework of representational belonging proposed by Caswell, Cifor, and Ramirez in 2016, my second research question aims to explore the current understanding of identity among Chinese immigrants and their descendants, and how community archives can be used to foster representational belonging.

View the full proposal.

Han's doctoral committee includes Associate Professor Anita Chan, Chair, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Teaching Assistant Professor Martin Wolske, Co-chair, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Professor Michelle Caswell, University of California Los Angeles; and Professor Clara Chu, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


Questions? Contact Yingying Han.