Archival Studies and the Archival Turn – deadline 26 April 2019

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Date / time
Date(s) - 5 July
All day

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As the archives scholar Michelle Caswell has argued, since the “archival turn” among humanities scholars several decades ago, attempts have been made to gender, deconstruct, decolonise and theorise “the archive”. Humanities scholars have sought ways to read “the archive” against or along the grain, to listen to the traces of subaltern voices within it, or to stretch archival fragments in order to reveal hidden and forgotten lives, as well as to explore the larger power dynamics at work within the archive. Such efforts have been hailed both for their insights and their interdisciplinarity. But not only have humanities scholars largely ignored actual archives, namely their physicality and the processes that served to construct them, they have also failed to engage with the theoretical and methodological insights of archival studies. As a result, humanities scholarship, for Caswell, is actually “suffering from a failure of interdisciplinarity when it comes to archives” – a product, for her, of the ways in which archival work has been gendered as feminine and, as a result, de-legitimised. The aim of this workshop is to promote such interdisciplinarity through bringing humanities and archives scholars into dialogue. But it is also to draw upon the theoretical and methodological insights of archival scholars in order to rethink how humanities scholars approach “the archive”.

We therefore invite papers from both humanities and archives scholars that consider but are not limited to the following questions:

  • What is the relationship between archives and “the archive”?
  • What role does archival labour play in making something “archival”? What role do users play in this process?
  • In what ways does how we conceptualise records, or the provenance of them, shape our understanding of “the archive”?
  • How can archives be conceptualised or used to restore/recover subaltern voices?
  • What are the particular power dynamics at work in the construction of archives versus “the archive”?

Please submit proposals of 150-300 words by Friday, April 26th, to Deana Heath (heathd@liverpool.ac.uk) and James Lowry (jlowry@liverpool.ac.uk).

Location: University of Liverpool