June 18, 2018

T-Kay Sangwand | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Advocates

T-Kay Sangwand


Archivist, Human Rights Documentation Initiative; Librarian for Brazilian Studies at the Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, Austin, TX

MLIS, MA in Latin American Studies, both, University of California, Los Angeles, 2008

An experienced DJ, Sangwand puts her mixing skills to work for library events and her community radio show, Hip Hop Hooray

lib.utexas.edu/hrdi; @tttkay; dublab.com/labrat/labrat-t-kay

Photo by Marsha Miller

Human Rights Archivist

Archivist T-Kay Sangwand works with human rights groups around the world to preserve the histories of marginalized peoples and everyday individuals caught up in war and genocide.

As the archivist for the Human Rights Documentation Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin, Sangwand acts as a consultant to human rights organizations to develop strategies for preservation of and online access to their records. This approach, called postcustodial archival work, allows these nongovernmental organizations to maintain ownership over their records and to “tell their histories in their own words,” she says.

In 2009, Sangwand cofounded the Society of American Archivists’ Human Rights Archives Roundtable. Sangwand also is a “forerunner” in promoting and implementing the postcustodial approach with human rights groups, says California State University–Long Beach librarian Cynthia Mari Orozco. Sangwand’s work ensures online access to videos, photographs, and other documentary records of genocide, human trafficking, civil war, and other human rights violations.

This year, Sangwand, who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, says she will finish work as the principal investigator for an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation–funded project that collaborates with community archives in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. She has also worked in Rwanda on genocide survivor testimonies. “Most marginalized groups hardly ever see themselves reflected positively in mainstream media, historical narratives, [or] the archival profession, and thus archives can serve as an important site of encounter with their histories,” Sangwand says.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.