Reassembling Documents of Life in the Archive
We usually perceive archives as the end of the active life of a document, a place where a document is deposited to be protected and preserved for the creation of future memories and histories. And yet archives are beginnings as much as they are ends: they give their documents a new life and particularly with the advent of digitisation, new and diverse forms of life; but they can also deprive their documents of a future life, by hiding them through mysterious cataloguing structures, complex classification practices or merely spatial arrangements. Apart from curators and archivists who create and organise archives, often hiding documents in them, researchers also create archival assemblages when they bring together documents from diverse archives and sources around the world. But researchers, like archivists, often hide the archival strategies or sources of their research, through their immersion in the power relations of knowledge production. In this paper I look at the creation of an archival assemblage from my research with documents of life written by French seamstresses, active in the feminist circles of the romantic socialist movements of the nineteenth century. What I argue is that as researchers we need to become more sensitive to the life of the documents of life we work with; simply put: we cannot engage with documents of life while ignoring the life of documents within the archive and beyond.
This article was submitted to EJLW on January 16th 2016, and published on April 9th 2017
Copyright (c) 2017 Maria Tamboukou
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).