The University Libraries Speaker Series features speakers from a wide range of backgrounds who embody at least one of the Libraries’ core values of context, curiosity, or access. The lecture series delivers experiences that inform, delight, and enlighten the CMU community, contributing to a campus atmosphere that enriches the university’s mission.

Some events are co-sponsored by other CMU schools, colleges, or departments. All events are open to the public and there is no charge for admission.

2020-2021 Speaker Series

Authority over the cultural heritage of a community is a key factor to its survival. Our experiences – and the stories we tell – accumulate over time into narratives for which we become known. They circulate rapidly, influence our relationship to society at large, and establish long term claims to place and power.

For communities shaped by ongoing structural oppression and everyday violence, community archives are one of many tools used to address patterns of misrepresentation that are rehearsed across law, education, arts, and culture. Rather than serve as extra repositories, community archives are interpretive projects where knowledge that has been obscured by dominant culture can be centered.

To better understand these efforts and the kinds of work done by those involved, the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries’ Speaker Series is honored to welcome Harrison Apple of the Pittsburgh Queer History Project and Bekezela Mguni of the Black Unicorn Library and Archives Project. As community archivists with work rooted in the Pittsburgh region, Harrison and Bekezela will discuss methodologies of community archiving and their importance to our shared public consciousness.

Upcoming Speaker

Reclaiming Cultural Stewardship and Decolonizing the Archives. Thursday, February 25th, 2021. 7:00 p.m. Online Event.

What does it mean to approach the practice of archiving through a justice-centered lens? Archivists play a critical role in the preservation of our history, how we interpret the current moment, and what evidence is left behind in order to help us understand and shape our future.  Whose story is deemed valuable? Whose life is seen as important enough to be remembered?  What cultural lenses will we use to look at our experiences? In this talk, Bekezela Mguni examines how archives can be both sites of powerful memory keeping as well as oppression and violence.

Bekezela Mguni is a queer Trinidadian artist, librarian, and educator. She has over 15 years of community organizing experience in the Reproductive Justice movement and holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh. She was a 2015-2016 member of the Penn Ave Creative Accelerator Program with the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and launched the Black Unicorn Library and Archive Project, a Black feminist community library and archive. She is currently an artist-in-residence at Artist Image Resource and the librarian-in-residence at the Pittsburgh International Airport.