Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Call for Book Chapters: Global Perspectives on Anti-Racism and Anti-Colonial Library Management Practices

Call for Book Chapters

Global Perspectives on Anti-Racism and Anti-Colonial Library Management Practices


  • Allan Cho, University of British Columbia (UBC) Library
  • Silvia Vong, Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Libraries
Important Dates
  • Proposals due: July 28, 2023
  • Review period: August 2023
  • Notifications of Acceptance: August 25, 2023
  • The first draft of the chapters is due: on December 29, 2023
  • Review period/feedback: March 29, 2024
  • The second draft of the chapters is due: on July 1, 2024
  • Review period/minor revisions: August 1, 2024
  • Final Manuscript submission: September 1, 2024
  • Target publication date: six months after submission (by editors) of the final manuscript

This book is signed with Facet Publishing and is based on the perspectives and experiences of different practicing librarians, researchers, and educators worldwide, who engage with anti-racist and anti-colonial practices in library and information science (LIS). The book draws on Dei’s meaning of anti-racism and anti-colonialism. Anti-racism moves away from the “preoccupation with individual prejudices and discriminatory actions to the examination of the ways in which racist ideas and individual actions are entrenched and unconsciously supported in institutional structures” (Dei, 1995, p. 13). Anti-colonialism is resistance and counters to dominant Western and Eurocentric thought and practice. George Dei (2006) writes, “Anti-colonial thought is about a ‘decolonizing of the mind’ working with resistant knowledge and claiming the power of local subjects’ intellectual agency” (p. 11). Both of these terms refer to some form of critical action. It is important to note that Sara Ahmed (2012) identifies in On Being Included that institutions and management are largely performative in addressing racism and whiteness in higher education. The editors recognize that management may have historical roots and connections in problematic ideologies and practices. However, rather than focus on talking about the problems, this book focuses on critiquing and offering redress for institutional policies, procedures, and practices that reinforce racist or colonial ideologies that impact underrepresented and/or equity-deserving groups. For that reason, the editors are seeking chapter proposals that move away from common performative practice (e.g., statement writing, document reporting, re-branding) and more towards practical action and changes in library settings.

Global perspectives mean that an effort to ensure a range of perspectives from different countries are included to examine issues of racism and colonialism and its impact on the library as a workplace. The intention is to ensure that different experiences are represented to avoid essentializing or assuming what anti-racism and/or anti-colonial practices look like in different contexts. Through a critical lens that may include postcolonial theory, Critical Race Theory, Critical Race Feminism, etc., Methods that the editors have experience reviewing are qualitative studies that include interviews, surveys, autoethnography, and case studies. In addition, some works may be a literature review, or conceptual. If submitting a proposal and chapter that uses autoethnography, please include details about research ethics, data, data collection, and writing approach.
  • Ahmed, S. (2012). On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. Duke University Press.
  • Sefa Dei, G. J., & Kempf, A. (2006). Anti-Colonialism and Education: The Politics of Resistance. Sense Publishers.
  • Dei, G. J. S. (1995). Integrative Anti-Racism: Intersection of Race, Class, and Gender. Race, Gender & Class, 2(3), 11–30.
  • Present perspectives and experiences of different practicing librarians, researchers, and educators across the world, who engage with anti-racist and/or anti-colonial leaders and/or management practices in LIS
  • Examine the dynamically shifting role between anti-racism and anti-colonialism and library institutions in the context of managing people, information, and collections
  • Bringing awareness and exploring actions managers can take to redress racist or colonial structures and practices.
Target Audience
  • Library practitioners, activists, managers, leaders, etc. interested in engaging in anti-racist and anti-colonial practices
  • The content should be aimed at librarians ready to learn and act to support anti-racism and anti-colonial efforts.
Potential Topics
  • Addressing Colonial Practices in Governance or Organizational Structures in Libraries
  • Decolonizing Leadership and Management
  • Truth and Redress of Colonial Histories/Connections in Institutions
  • Management through a Critical Race Theory or Postcolonial Theory lens
  • Decentering Whiteness in Libraries
  • Cultural Taxation in the Profession
  • Anti-racism in the Library Workplace
  • Laws, and Policies
We are also open to suggestions on topics about anti-racism or anti-colonial practices. Proposals should include references to academic sources.

Please send the following to by July 28, 2023:
  • Name(s)
  • Job Title(s)
  • Institution(s)
  • Section of interest and a 500-word description of the proposed book chapter
  • Please indicate the topic, method, and main point(s) clearly
  • Research involving human participants, including autoethnographies should indicate whether a research ethics or institutional research board approval.
  • References list (APA style)
  • A 250-word bio of the author or authors
Facet Publishing is a leading publisher of books for the information, knowledge and heritage sectors. They publish for a wide range of readers including students, practitioners, educators and researchers, bringing cutting-edge research, practical tools and guidance and thought leadership to the global community.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Bamboo Ceiling Reframed: The Impact of Social Practices in Management on Asian Library Managers

It was such a pleasure to moderate a session featuring my friend and role model librarian, Silvia Vong.   Silvia and I are conducting a research project and it has been an eye-opening working with such a talented individual.   As the Associate Chief Librarian for Scholarly, Research and Creative Activities at Toronto Metropolitan University in Toronto, Silvia has worked in universities for over a decade.  She's completing her Ph.D. research which focuses on the impact of neoliberal conventions and managerialism on equity and anti-racism work in Canadian universities. Silvia draws on the works of Critical Race Theory scholars, Postcolonial Theory, and Bourdieu to examine issues in librarianship.   Her talk is based on a chapter that is published in Libraries as Dysfunctional Organizations and Workplaces.  

In 2005, Jane Hyun, a management consultant, wrote a book titled Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians. Though the text was intended to “introduce” Asians to dominant management practices and workplace culture, the text was problematic in that it essentialized Asians, reiterated deficit narratives, and narratives of the “other.” In an effort to add another perspective to the issue of the lack of representation, Silvia's research was designed with a structuralist approach. Rather than blame or point to a group, the study focused on examining social and organizational barriers through a Bourdieusian and Critical Race Theory lens to identify how dominant structures exclude, reward assimilation, and build into a system, of invisible or taken-for-granted rules.   The talk's presentation slides on Bamboo Ceiling Reframed are here.  

Monday, April 24, 2023

Creating an Edge by Turning Adversity into Advantage

During my sabbatical, I’ve been conducting research on EDI initiatives, in addition to completing my certificate in the EDI Certificate program at UBC. It’s been rewarding, and I’m grateful for the opportunity, but it has been draining and what some call an emotional burden - to listen to, process, and reflect on the inequities of the workplace and the traumatic experiences of library workers who faced discrimination, prejudice, and racism.  I've listened to some truly heartwrenching stories.  

Harvard faculty Laura Huang researches interpersonal relationships and implicit bias in entrepreneurship and in the workplace.  The wonderful aspect of this book is that it’s not limited to any particular subject domain or just the business stories of successful people.  Rather, it’s extraordinary stories of ordinary people who came from disadvantaged backgrounds infused with evidence-based research.  Huang calls this approach EDGE – enrich, delight, and guide – to make your effort go further. These concepts make up the core structure of succeeding within an imperfect system and success ultimately requires knowing who you are so that you can turn that knowledge into an advantage.  Here is Huang's approach to creating one's edge.

Enrich - The ability to provide value to and enrich those around you. The difference between those who truly enrich and bring value to others and those who don’t actually bring value. Those who have an edge demonstrate and communicate the value they bring, rather than leave it up to others to determine.
  • Hard work should be enough; oftentimes, it’s not.
  • Know your weaknesses will help you identify your circle of competence, or “basic goods.” You’ll know not only where you’re valuable, but where you’re invaluable.
  • To use your basic goods in distinct ways, go where others don’t.
  • Embrace constraints as they provide the most opportunities.
  • Trust your intuition and your experiences – your “gut”
Delight - It’s the element of surprise, the unexpected. Delight isn’t about charming, entertaining, or slick. Rather, delight is about violating perceptions, but in a benign way, unsettling and challenging beliefs about your context, grabbing the attention of gatekeepers, and making way for you to show how you enrich
  • Before people let you in, they need to be delighted.
  • Don’t over plan. Instead, aim for flexibility and opportunities to delight.
  • Stay authentic and embrace how delight occurs in situ.
Guide - Empowering ourselves to guide our own contexts. When you know how others see you, it gives you the capacity to guide and redirect that perception, so that you can influence how people grasp and appreciate the value you command.
  • "Being yourself” means guiding others to the best versions of your multiple identities.
  • Know how others see you, so you can redirect them to how they should see you.
  • Guide others to what is within you by recognizing what is around you.
  • Guide how others see your trajectory. It’s not where you’ve been; it’s where you’re going.
Effort - Effort and hard work reinforce the edge that you create for yourself. Gaining an edge requires hard work, plus. You need hard work, but when so many factors are driven by outside forces, you also need to know how to allocate effort.
  • Turn adversity into your edge.
Laura Huang proposes that rather than spinning our wheels and feeling sorry for ourselves for these injustices, we need to accept the reality of our disadvantages and do something about it.   It's an inspiring monograph for those who have faced discrimination and seem to hit a wall all the time.  As a person of colour who grew up in an immigrant household and was the first to have gone to university in my family, I've faced racism and microaggressions as many of my generation and background have.  This book offers some solace.      
“Your past is not something that you should lament; it should be another asset in how you gain your unique advantage. Let your past make you better, no bitter.”

Friday, April 07, 2023

Rest is Resistance as Liberation

I learned about this book from the EDI Scholar-in-Residence, Nneka Allen, who introduced the concept of rest to the audience.   What a lifechanging moment.   I couldn't put down Tricia Hersey's book once I picked it up.  Rest is not a luxury, but resistance against grind culture.  Rest is a form of resistance because it disrupts and pushes back against capitalism and white supremacy. But Tricia Hersey argues that resting is not intended for us to come back stronger and more productive for a capitalist system. 

As someone who has grown up and is born in this system and culture, the idea of rest is a novel concept to me.   Rest is a deep movement of deprogramming our minds to discard this false belief of striving for constant perfectionism. Because capitalism has captured most of us, we are under the spell of the hustle-and-grind culture that compels society to the “unreachable finish line of wealth.” Rest is not encouraged or modeled in such a culture.  Some of the key highlights I want to share here:

“Students are being trained to be workers who can follow orders, memorize facts, and be on time no mater what. Imagination and critical thinking skills are replaced with cookie-cutter learning and standardized testing"

“We have been socialized, manipulated, and indoctrinated by everything in culture to believe the lies of grind culture. In order for a capitalist system to thrive, our false beliefs in productivity and labor must remain"

“We center rest as a means for healing and liberation. We believe sleep deprivation is a racial and social justice issue"

“Rest is resistance because it is a counternarrative to the script of capitalism and white supremacy for all people"

“Unlike white feminism, womanism holds space for race, class, and gender and understands the family and community of Black woman are collaborators in the struggle for liberation” 

“We can . . . begin to honor our bodies and trust our ability to learn new ways of being. We don’t have to be burned out, sleep-deprived, painfully exhausted, or disconnected from our selves and each other"

“I name academia as one of the main sites of grind culture. The headquarters of pushing through exhaustion, competition, expectations, and a lack of balance. people live in the library never once leaving, bringing sleeping bags to lay under tables and in between bookshelves. . ."

“The stress, anxiety, overloaded curriculum, and pressure we normalize in public schools and higher education are toxic and dangerous for everyone involved, but particularly toxic for young children and young adults who are still developing a sense of self . . . we seek external validation from a violent system void of love"

“. . . resting is a connection and a path back to our true nature. We are stripped down to who we really were before the terror of capitalism and white supremacy"

“The system has been lying and guiding us all blindly to urgent and unsustainable fantasies. We have replaced our inherent self-esteem with toxic productivity"

“You don’t have to always be creating, doing, and contributing to the world. Your birth grants you rest and leisure as well"

Naps are about a “deep journey toward decolonizing and returning to our natural state before the terror and the lies were given to us"

“We are going up against such violent systems in our attempt to disrupt and push back: white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, patriarchy, classism, anti-Blackness, homophobia, etc"

“Go to your beds. Go to your couches. Find a hammock. Go into the portal of naps. Go there often. You don’t have to wait on permission from the dominant culture"

Tricia Hersey suggests a 30-day sabbath, a quarantine and liberation from our grind culture, and focusing instead on rest. It means not only detoxing from technology and social media but announcing and making it clear as possible to everyone in your spheres that you will not be available during this time. Without a model from our culture for what it looks like to stop and pause, a sabbath is an opportunity for “intense imagination work and collaboration with Spirit” even if it’s for ten minutes, a weekend, or a month.” Whatever it is, this rest should be unique to us and only us.  

Monday, April 03, 2023

Future Horizons: Canadian Digital Humanities

It's been a few years of hard work and many fruitful research discussions with my research partner, Sarah Zhang, and the fruits of our labour are out with our chapter in Future Horizons: Canadian Digital Humanities.   When we first started out together on this project, we worked on with the historical dataset of the Chinese headtax registers (the records of migrants as they stepped off the ship and onto Canadian soil).  In 2019, we were asked to present at Paul Barrett's graduate studies seminar where we talked about the migrants' head tax, GIS, and digital humanities.  From there, we worked on presenting it at conferences.   In 2021, we were asked to submit a chapter to a book that Sarah Roger and Paul Barrett were thinking about putting together.  And in April 2023, it was finally published.  
Across more than twenty chapters, Future Horizons explores the past, present, and future of digital humanities research, teaching, and experimentation in Canada. Bringing together work by established and emerging scholars, this collection presents contemporary initiatives in digital humanities alongside a reassessment of the field’s legacy to date and conversations about its future potential. It also offers a historical view of the important, yet largely unknown, digital projects in Canada. 
Future Horizons offers deep dives into projects that enlist a diverse range of approaches—from digital games to makerspaces, sound archives to born-digital poetry, visual arts to digital textual analysis—and that work with both historical and contemporary Canadian materials. The essays demonstrate how these diverse approaches challenge disciplinary knowledge by enabling humanities researchers to ask new questions.

The collection challenges the idea that there is either a single definition of digital humanities or a collective national identity. By looking to digital engagements with race, Indigeneity, gender, and sexuality—not to mention history, poetry, and nationhood—this volume expands what it means to work at the intersection of digital humanities and humanities in Canada today.

1. Digital Canadas? Transforming the Nation — Sarah Roger and Paul Barrett

Part 1. Situating and Disrupting Digital Scholarship
2. Where Is the Nation in Digital Humanities, Revisited — Roopika Risam
3. Rerouting Digital (Humanities) Scholarship in Canada — Andrea Zeffiro
4. Closed, Open, Stopped: Indigenous Sovereignty and the Possibility of Decolonial DH — David Gaertner
5. “This Game Needs to be Made”: Playable Theories ⇌ Virtual Worlds — Jon Saklfoske
6. Reimagining Representational Codes in Data Visualization: What Contemporary Digital Humanities Might Learn from Visual Arts-Based Disciplines — Julia Polyck-O’Neill
7. Making, Conversation: An Experiment in Public Digital Humanities — Kim Martin and Rashmeet Kaur

Part 2. Digital Poetics
8. Canadian Poetry and the Computational Concordance: Sandra Djwa and the Early History of Canadian Humanities Computing — Sarah Roger, Paul Barrett, and Kiera Obbard
9. Canadian Poetry and the Computer — Sandra Djwa
10. “saga uv th relees uv human spirit from compuewterr funckshuns”: Space Conquest, IBM, and the Anti-digital Anxiety of Early Canadian Digital Poetics (1960–1968) — Gregory Betts
11. From the Digits to the Digital: Bodies in the Machines of Canadian Concrete Poetics — Eric Schmaltz
12. Nations of Touch: The Politics of Electronic Literature as Digital Humanities — Dani Spinosa
13. STOP WORDS — Klara du Plessis

Part 3. Digital Canadian Archives
14. Wages Due Both Then and Now — Pascale Dangoisse, Constance Crompton, and Michelle Schwartz
15. Analog Thrills, Digital Spills: On the Fred Wah Digital Archive version 2.0 — Deanna Fong and Ryan Fitzpatrick
16. Humanizing the Archive: The potential of Hip-Hop archives in the digital humanities — Mark Campbell
17. Sounding Digital Humanities — Katherine McLeod
18. Unsettling Colonial Mapping: Sonic-Spatial Representations of amiskwaciw√Ęskahikan — Kendra Cowley
19. Beyond “Mere Digitization”: Introducing the Canadian Modernist Magazines Project — Graham H. Jensen
20. “A Legacy of Race and Data: Mining the History of Exclusion” — Allan Cho and Sarah Zhang

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Remembering Jim Wong-Chu: Happy 74th Birthday

Today is Jim Wong-Chu’s birthday and he would’ve been 74 years old. It’s been five years since the passing of my friend and I dearly miss his presence and mentorship.  Jim was a “writer, photographer, historian, radio producer, community organizer and activist, editor, and literary and cultural engineer,” but to me, most of all, he was a role model for young people finding their way in this world. He was a polymath of ideas and very inspiring and had a moral compass. Jim was born in 1949 in Hong Kong. In 1953, he was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Canada as a "paper son", a term which referred to the practice of children who immigrated to Canada by using real or falsified identification papers of relatives living in Canada.  


Though his formal education was never completed, Jim inspired me that formal education never ends, and learning is lifelong. He wanted to learn more about the publishing business, so he also worked as an associate editor for Douglas and McIntyre and as an associate editor for Arsenal Pulp Press. Jim attended the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design) with a focus on photography and design from 1975-1981. He also attended the University of British Columbia for creative writing from 1985-1987, all the while working as a letter carrier at Canada Post. He was a founding member of various community and cultural organizations including:
  •  Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop (ACWW)
  • Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society 
  • the Pender Guy Radio Program, Asia Canadian Performing Arts Resource (ACPAR)
  • Go for Broke Festival
  • B.C. Sinfonetta Society
  • Federation of British Columbia Writers
  • The Chinese Community Library Association
  • B.C. Heritage Trust
  • Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver
Jim was also an author and editor of: 
  • Chinatown Ghosts
  • Strike the Wok: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Fiction
  • Many-Mouthed Birds: Contemporary Writing by Chinese Canadians;  
  • Swallowing Clouds: An Anthology of Chinese-Canadian Poetry
I'm heartened that Jim's work and legacy live on at the UBC Library's Rare Books and Special Collections.  In a way, it's comforting to know that I sit above his archival fonds each day, knowing that the many late-night conversations, early-morning deadlines, and everything in-between, continue as a lasting resource to many researchers and academics.    In 2021, for example, a graduate student Brandon Leung, writes about how Jim's life and insights influenced and shaped the way he researched and thought about Asian Canadian studies.   Here is a fantastic Finding Aid of the Jim Wong-Chu fonds (RBSC-ARC-1710) available online.   Jim, thank you for the memories.