New practices, new interpretations and new lives for archival materials
Recent scholarship has marked a turn away from treating archives as repositories of factual knowledge to a focus on sites of archival practices and knowledge production. In the words of Ann Laura Stoler, archives provide access not only to records of rule, they are places where ‘the force of writing’ ‘the ‘feel of documents’, ‘lettered governance’ and ‘written traces of colonial lives’ all come together.
Critical interest in archives also draws attention to the transformative effects of digitisation, to contradictory forces that allow archived materials to be accessed outside of the material (in both architectural and paper-based) forms that house ‘originals’, through online databases and virtual museums, while also making the management of collections precariously vulnerable to shifting regimes of governmental support.
While archival research has traditionally been the purview of historians, since the 1980s the postcolonial politics of community engagement and repatriation have triggered a variety of new kinds of research engagements between institutions, community stakeholders and scholars, often resulting in new forms of archival production. Indigenous communities especially —historically subject to sustained archival attention — call for decentring and decolonising practices to transform institutions.
Informed by histories of the production of colonial knowledge, and responding to new and interdisciplinary directions in archival theory and research this conference will bring together researchers, practitioners, industry partners and creative Indigenous responders to the archive to discuss the critical elements of working with and through archives in the present.
Professor Jeannette Bastian, Simmons School of Library and Information Science, Boston USA
Professor Tony Ballantyne, University of Otago, New Zealand
Dr Natalie Harkin, Flinders University
Dr Chris Owen, University of Western Australia
Dr Rachel Buchanan, Curator, Germaine Greer archive, University of Melbourne
221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood, Victoria 3125
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