Final Reflection - Kate Saunders

Welcome to the Community-Driven Archives (CDA) Initiative blog! We conclude the final reflection posts from our graduating student archivists series with an entry from Kate Saunders. Kate is an amazing artist and activist dedicated to community work. From the beginning of her time with the CDA team, Kate was a force to be reckoned with and fit in perfectly with us. She brought so much dedication to outreach to the communities CDA worked with due to her activism work and assisted CDA with advancing our outreach efforts. We wish Kate much success as she transitions into her life away from ASU and the CDA team. We will miss you so much Kate!


All that you touch you Change 

All that you Change Changes you.
The only lasting truth is Change. 

-Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower (1993)


My introduction into the world of archives has always been queer, has always been creative. When I interviewed for this position to be a student archivist with the CDA team I told Nancy about my experience looking through archival material in the Biblioteca de México “Jose Vasconcelos” in Mexico City, a library with rare book collections where each room was designed by a different artist. Each room was a full artistic experience with different types of entryways, murals, hanging sculptures and more. I also remember the sense of calm and nervousness as I told Nancy that I am queer… that was not typically the type of information I would share in a job interview, but it made sense here. I had learned about the important work that CDA was doing and wanted to be a part of it. What I didn’t know was how much this place and this work would become a sort of home. A political home to wrestle together with what was happening in the world and our lives. An academic home to interrogate ideas and imagine possibilities together. And a queer feminist home, a place to be out and feel more and more like myself everyday, with love and with care. 

Kate Saunders
Kate Saunders


So much of what we were spending time with in the archives was queer material, so many of us on the team are queer in different ways, and each one of us is fiercely committed to liberation and wholeness in our lives and communities. Most of all, at CDA we do things in a queer way. Queer as a way of building worlds differently than the traditional structures have previously dictated. Working in a space that values connection and life and depth within ourselves and the work more than overt measures of productivity or perfectionism has been a daily revolutionary practice that I am so grateful to have experienced. I think the work is better because of it, I think the world is better because of it. I know we are all deeply moved by each other, and I will carry that with me as an orientation to the future I want to live in. 


Here is a poem I want to share. Poetry usually comes first for me, a way to make sense of all the feelings and all the ideas. Where things fall into place. 


POEM: Home (or evidence)


Sometimes a body can be

a future genealogy, a tether

enough to find each other. 


Sometimes distance can be a house fire.

Sometimes shame can be a house fire

Slow burning the attic that lives 

in your ribs.

Sometimes safety also includes a flood,

water damage.


Sometimes a chosen family can be 

an archival home,


A keyword search,

lineage of ‘here’. 


All the places we go looking:

A song,

An outfit.

A list

A feeling

Can be a story we belong to,

A timbre of voice

finding aid


A gesture 

a desire to inherit

To keep safe

A keepsake


A sacred place.

The “please don’t take this from me.

let this stay,”



A burial of resentment.

Sometimes a name.


A movement, 

A hymn 

A dance

Of all the quiet places.


A joy that lives in the same flesh as anger.

All of this is housed here. 


Thesis Performance myth and dissonance (April, 2021)


Moving forward, please contact the general CDA email address at with feedback regarding this blog as we would love to continue to hear from you regarding the work we here at ASU are doing in community archiving around Arizona. We also want your feedback on what you would like to see from us in future CDA blog posts.

As stated previously in our In Celebration of our Graduating Student Archivists post, which is linked above, we will be taking a hiatus from the blog to regroup and finish out the work the CDA team has been working on since 2017 as our Mellon grant ends in July 2021. We have some exciting things planned for the future and we can not wait to share them with you all. 

If you would like updates from the CDA team please follow our CDA Facebook page or the CDA Instagram page to keep abreast of our Summer virtual events and the changes CDA will be going through after July 2021. And please visit our website and our connect page for more information regarding the work we are doing around community-driven archives at ASU Library and with our community partners in Arizona. 

It has been my pleasure to be a part of this community and represent CDA via our blog. This experience has been life changing and I look forward to taking the lessons I have learned here at CDA into my new adventure here at ASU Library. Be on the lookout for more information about that. Peace and much love to you all. 

Jessica Salow, Specialist, Community-Driven Archives Initiative


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