Using the records that document the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition as a case study, this article discusses the messiness and unknowability of provenance. Drawing attention to how the concept of provenance can emphasize the reconstruction of a fonds when records have been moved, rearranged, and dispersed, this article draws attention to the ‘curative’ and ‘rehabilitative’ orientations of established notions of provenance. Put in conversation with disability studies scholarship, which critiques rehabilitating, curing, and restoring, this article outlines the theoretical scaffolding of a crip provenance: a disability-centered framework of resisting the desire to restore and instead meets records where they are at. By acknowledging archival realities (where provenance is messy, partial, rumored, or nonexistent), this article emphasizes relationships that exist precisely because records are always already dispersed, duplicated, and partial. A crip provenance highlights four central facets of archival and crip relationships—people, systems, materials, and spaces—as a way to grapple with archival realities and tell disability history when there is little or no evidence of disabled people. Together these facets demonstrate how a crip provenance opens up multiple avenues for addressing disability in history: from highlighting moments of living disabled people experiencing archival material to expansive tangential histories that connect language and materials to politics and ableism within the colonial history of the Exposition.
Brilmyer, Gracen M.
"Toward a Crip Provenance: Centering disability in archives through its absence,"
Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies: Vol. 9, Article 3.
Available at: https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/jcas/vol9/iss1/3