2018 Dodds Prize Winner


I am pleased to announce that Devon Mordell has been awarded the Dodds Prize for 2018 for her paper "Critical Questions for Archives as (Big) Data." Devon Mordell recently completed her MAS degree at UBC, and her paper was submitted by Jennifer Douglas.

Instituted in 2011, the Dodds Prize recognizes superior research and writing on an archival topic by a student enrolled in a Master's level archival studies program at a Canadian university. The award honours Gordon Dodds (1941-2010) who was the first President of the ACA, and Archivaria's longest-serving general editor. The submissions received for the 2017/18 academic year were reviewed by an adjudication committee consisting of Amy Marshall Furness (Art Gallery of Ontario), Richard Dancy (SFU Archives), Rebecka Sheffield (ACA Board designate / Simmons College / Archives Ontario), and Heather Home (Queen's University).  I thank the adjudication committee for their service.

The paper will be published in the Spring 2019 issue of Archivaria and the award will be formally presented at the ACA Conference in Toronto next June. The citation reads:

"We may observe a growing preoccupation in the archival literature with characterizing digital archives as “big data,” suitably capturing both their scale and the potential to manipulate them through the application of computational methods and techniques for the purposes of discovering new insights. The possibilities for working with digital archives as data are indeed encouraging, from supporting archival arrangement and description tasks to promoting the use of digital archives as data sets by researchers. But what are digital archives becoming when they are reframed as data, big or otherwise? What consequences might such a conceptualization have for how archival professionals imagine their role and their work? To the four archival paradigms of evidence, memory, identity and community theorized by Terry Cook, a fifth may now be poised to emerge: an archives-as-data paradigm. In this article, I begin to map out what an archives-as-data paradigm could entail by exploring how the conceptual and practical dimensions of applying computational methods to digital archives may work conservatively to revivify notions of archival neutrality. For an archives-as-data paradigm to realize the more liberatory aims of which it is capable, an active and ongoing commitment to recognizing and calling out these tendencies is necessary."

Congratulations, Devon, on your excellent work!

Shyla Seller
Managing Editor, Archivaria