Archivi, studi culturali, postmodernismo

Stavolta voglio partire da un post di Jane, nel blog Archives Hub Blog, (collegato al portale Archives Hub, da cui si accede alle descrizioni degli archivi universitari e dei college del regno Unito) dal titolo Everything is open to interpretation.

A me il post è piaciuto, mi ha incuriosito e spinto a seguire i link del seminario in questione che Jane ha recensito in modo molto vivace e attento. Aggiungo che qui si mettono in scena teorie e interpretazioni sugli archivi nate in un contesto di “cultural studies”, che fanno riferimento spesso a Foucault e Derrida. Dalle nostre parti la recezione di questi studi (in ambito archivistico) è come la illustra Paco nel suo post . Ma comunque a me interessano molto, anche non accettando tutto quanto come oro colato (infatti la parola chiave è “contesto”. E chi meglio degli archivisti dovrebbe saperla usare?) 🙂

Il seminario in questione, dal titolo The Ontology in Archives , fa parte di una interessante serie di incontri organizzati dal ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC).

La mission del Cresc:

To provide an integrated programme of theoretically directed, inter-disciplinary empirical research on socio-cultural change in the UK, placing this in comparative and historical perspective, so that its findings can shape academic research, and can be drawn upon by users of cultural research. At the broadest level, our programme will seek to overcome current barriers between academic disciplines and between academics and users.

Jane riassume e commenta l’intervento di Louise Craven (The National Archive), e mi pare si possa utilmente riportare un paio di paragrafi:

In recent years we have see the rise of community archives, the concept of individuals having their own archives and the enormous impact of technology which brings archives so much closer to people in so many different ways. More recently there is a greater understanding that record keeping and archives are integral to the development of society, and philosophical writings have reflected this, notably Derrida and Foucault.

Su Derrida si potrebbe aprire un lungo e complicato discorso, ne varrebbe la pena, ma lo rimando a un altro momento. Mi pare che il contributo di Foucault agli studi storici e culturali in genere sia meno controverso.

Archives may be seen as a source of power and control, and the archivist as central to this, providing context and order to the records. Archivists themselves are now more aware of addressing the ‘why’ and not just the ‘how’ in terms of their role and approach to archives. It may be that our traditional ideas about provenance, original order and uniqueness need to be reassessed, especially in the light of digital records. Indeed, context and provenance may be important to many users of archives, but not all – some are only concerned with an individual document and its relevance to them – the context they are concerned with is really their own life and experiences. Furthermore, it could be said (controversially) that there are multiple creators of an archival document, including the archivist who looks after it and catalogues it. The archive is not passive but actually has an active existence.

Nel post di Jane si fa poi una lunga citazione da Terry Cook and Joan M. Schwartz in Archival Science (2) 2002. Cook è tra i più conosciuti teorici del postmodernismo in archivistica.

Postmodernism requires a new openness, a new visibility, a willingness to question and be questioned, a commitment to self-reflection and accountability. Postmodernism requires archivists to accept their own historicity, to recognize their own role in the process of creating archives, and to reveal their own biases. Postmodernism sees value in stories more than structures, the margins as much as the centres, the diverse and ambiguous as much as the certain and universal. Above all, it asserts that no actor or observer, historian or archivist, is ever neutral or disinterested in any documentary process, nor is any “text” they consult (including archival documents) or preserve (i.e., appraise, acquire, describe, make available) a transparent window to some past reality. All human actions occur (even if subconsciously or unconsciously) within a context of contemporary societal metanarratives where everything is filtered, mediated, or influenced by considerations of language, personal (or organizational) psychology, and power.”

Questi discorsi mi interessano, e spero nel prossimo post di tornarci sopra esprimendo anche un punto di vista personale. Per ora, teneteli a mente! e se qualcuno/a volesse contribuire alla discussione, non spero altro!


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