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This report describes the goals and lessons learned during the foundational efforts to create, Rhizomes of Mexican American Art Since 1848, a digital tool in development that will enhance discovery of Mexican American art and related documentation at libraries, archives, and museums nationwide.1 The digital tool takes its name from continuously-growing stems that produce complex, connected lateral structures. This metaphor for rhizomatic roots also references the reciprocal, redistributive, and equitable methods employed to create a cross- institutional network that shares digital files and historical documentation about an underrepresented community. Furthermore, Rhizomes operates as a post-custodial archive that virtually unifies content and directs users back to stakeholder institutions. By receiving visitor traffic through the portal, Rhizomes credits the small-sized, community-based institutions which steward the nation’s largest collections of Mexican American art. This post- custodial design rejects colonial models of knowledge extraction and appropriation by operating an inclusive and democratic method for digital preservation and dissemination.


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