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IRC16 - Proposed Session - #UnconfiedArchivesUnboundHistories

Posted by Sumandro Chattapadhyay at Nov 23, 2015 06:30 AM |
This is a session proposed for the Internet Researchers' Conference (IRC) 2016 by Kausik Bandopadhyay and Sugata Nandi.



The archive as we know it today was an official invention of the nineteenth century. It was taken to be a repository of information which aided and validated the creation of a new specialized scientific knowledge called History. With the archive was born was official histories. Being constituted of official documents the archive served official objectives. The professional historian born with the archive was a practitioner of a new science of the state, who produced knowledge verifiable at the archive. In the nineteenth century the archive served imperialist objectives, from the mid twentieth century it catered to states which emerged from erstwhile colonies and continued to serve official interests while producing histories which often rendered the earlier histories into mere cultural artifacts of a bygone age devoid of scholarly value. Through this period historians remained bound to archives which granted them access and they were compelled to narrowly demarcate territories. i.e. states, provinces within them or even smaller areas like a city or a village, which were to become their subjects. With the coming of the Internet the archive is now taking on a new meaning altogether as it no longer confined spatially. With the easy availability of technology for creation and preservation of documents and their public accessibility , the archive is being constituted and re-constituted continuously. As it is no longer bound down by statist objectives alone the questions come up: a) are we in the threshold of the demise of official histories? And, b) has time come for de-territorialization of histories altogether?



Abstracts of three hundred words are invited which critically assess the archive today from this perspective and its implications for history writing taking into consideration three works on archives.



Michel Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge (Part III, the Statement and the Archive), 1972

Jacques Derrida and Eric Prenowitz, "Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression", Diacritics, 25, 2, Summer 1995

Ann Laura Stoler, Along the Archival Grain, 2009.



Sumandro Chattapadhyay

As a Director at CIS, I co-lead the researchers@work programme, and engage with academic and policy research on data governance and digital economy. I can be reached at sumandro[at]cis-india[dot]org.