Announcing The Archive Project!
The Archive Project is published on 16 July 2016 by Routledge and is concerned with the ‘how to’ of archival research in the social sciences. It has been jointly written by, alphabetically, Niamh Moore, Andrea Salter, Liz Stanley, Maria Tamboukou. It is located in the context of the ‘archival turn’, that vast surge of interest in archives, memory and traces of the past that has occurred among both popular and academic audiences over the last few decades.
How should research on traces of the past – letters, Wills, diaries, photographs and many other documents – be done, and what kind of methodology should be used? ‘Methodology’ includes method in the sense of techniques of investigation (although it’s by no means confined to this), theory of both a middle-range and a more abstract social theory kind, and an over-arching framework organised around some principles or grounding. We discuss all these in the framework of our four different but complimentary methodological approaches. The principles underpinning The Archive Project are at once political, ethical and intellectual and we present them under the broad heading of a feminist archival sensibility. All of its chapters provide detailed information about the varied practices of archival and documentary research and how this sensibility plays out.
The book’s website contains information about each chapter in the book, provides ideas for trying out the four key methodologies it presents in some ‘Master Class’ pages, and also includes helpful ideas for people who teach about archives, documents and related topics at both undergraduate and graduate levels. There’s also lots of other goodies too.
A Prologue briefly sets the scene, in introducing some guiding principles around methodology, the trace, and also the archival sensibility that underscores the approach taken in The Archive Project.
Chapter 1 explores key ideas, debates and key literature associated with the ‘archival turn’, with a particular eye on methodology matters, which are often bracketed or ignored and with the focus instead on conceptual and theoretical issues.
Chapter 2 is concerned with opening the ‘black box’ of archival research and explores a range of practical strategies and tools for exploring traces, documents, collections and archives under the heading of ‘archigraphics’ and the role of writing in this.
Chapter 3 offers a way of thinking about and working with the rhythms of archival practice, and it details a broad narrative methodology grounded in the interweaving of archival processes and products.
Chapter 4 explores time and the temporal order in archival research, for time not only marks the traces that are in archival collections, but also structures the practices of archival research methodology, with different temporally-grounded ways of reading archival materials the focus of discussion.
Chapter 5 is concerned with further expanding ideas about what an archive is and who archivists can be by exploring the sometimes blurry line between archival research processes and products in relation to the formation of a contemporary archive.
Chapter 6 draws together themes and ideas across the book, starting with the trace, the concept that underlies the whole of the book’s discussion, by commenting on the archive as an institution, as a project and as a process.
An Epilogue rounds things off by discussing some topics that ‘are not there’, in the sense that although important and touched on in all the composing chapters, they are not discussed in a direct way but deserve to be; and it also provides suggestions for ways in which readers might want to take further some of the ideas and methodological practices in the book.