Antiracism Resources: Equity & Inclusion in Conservation

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 11:13

A few weeks ago, we shared resources focused on creating workplaces that actively support diversity and inclusion. Today, we’re sharing resources focused on the discussion of race, diversity, and inclusion in the field of conservation, specifically through the American Institute of Conservation (AIC). Conservation is an important part of archival work, as it supports the stabilization of objects and materials for the long term.

Sanchita Balachandran is a conservator of archaeological materials, as well as the Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and a Senior Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University. At the 44th AIC Annual Meeting in May 2016, Balachandran presented "Race, Diversity and Politics in Conservation: Our 21st Century Crisis." This talk addressed how the conservation field had so far remained largely silent on issues of inequality and racism, and how deeply the field has been affected by these issues. Balachandran explained, “Our crisis is one of desperate urgency, but it has gone unconfronted from the safety of our benches, beyond the field of view of our Optivisors and microscopes, in large part because we have been unwilling or unprepared to see the problems even within our own profession... [I]t is time to recognize the ways in which conservation routinely excludes certain hands, voices, perspectives, histories and legacies.” This talk is just one of many valuable resources Balachandran has produced to propel forward the discussion of race, diversity, and inclusion in the conservation field.

In December 2016, AIC created an Equity & Inclusion Committee to formalize their commitment to these issues within the organization and the field at large. The committee pursues strategic avenues that support AIC’s Core Value of Equity and Inclusion and works to improve these tenets in membership and programming. In May of 2020, the group shared their Strategic Plan for 2020-2025, which focuses on four main goals: fostering an inclusive and welcoming organizational culture, increasing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) training and resources for AIC members, improving sustainability of DEIA funding sources, and integrating DEIA into all AIC programs. While the work produced by this group can be valuable to all cultural institutions, it has a heavy focus on the fields of Art and Historic Conservation.

Does your archival work intersect with paper, book, or object conservation? Do you see efforts to increase Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility impacting your workplace? Please share any comments or feedback below, email us at, or connect with us on the DHPSNY Facebook page or DHPSNY Community Facebook Group

This is part of a biweekly blog series on sharing information, promoting resources, encouraging discussion, and amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) doing antiracism work in archives, museums, history sites, and library special collections. DHPSNY is committed to supporting the diverse network of collecting institutions that safeguard and ensure access to historical records and library research materials across New York State. To learn more, visit our first blog post in the series. 


Image: detail, homepage image from Sanchita Balachandran's website

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