Global Archivalities: A Conceptual Workshop

Global Archivalities: A conceptual workshop
May 7, 2013, 9-11 AM (PDT)

Convenor: Randolph Head (UC-Riverside)
Co-convenors: Arndt Brendecke (Munich), Hilde de Weerdt (London-King’s College)

Attendance: In-person in Riverside, CA, or via Adobe Connect (globally)
To participate, contact the convenor by e-mail at: randolph.head (at)

Archives play a fundamental role in historical research, yet archivality as a human cultural product subject to enormous variation – across cultural systems and across time – has received little substantive and almost no comparative attention. We propose the formation of a collaborative network among humanistic scholars interested in investigating the formation, use, and representation of archives around the globe in the pre-modern period. By bringing together researchers with the necessary linguistic skills, specific knowledge, and diverse theoretical and epistemological approaches, this project will contribute to enriched research on various regions and topics. Of equal importance, however, will be the project’s contribution to understanding how archival accumulation has shaped legal, political, memorial and not least historiographical expectations about the production and preservation of records in different cultural contexts. In light of the last half-century’s theoretical and methodological insights, it is no longer tenable to write scholarship from the archives without understanding the history of the archives.

The conceptual workshop on May 7 seeks to define more clearly the terrain that such a network and project will consider. Bringing together experts on diverse record-keeping traditions and from varying theoretical perspectives, we seek to promote shared understandings of the decisive theoretical and empirical issues that the comparative study of pre-modern archivality must address. A second goal is to highlight the many research opportunities that the comparative study of archivality can offer, and to help create a supportive network of junior as well as senior humanists that can promote such research.

Scholars working on any part of the world where systematic recordkeeping took place are invited to participate. The core time frame of the subject envisioned by the convenors runs from the post-Classical through the early modern periods (as they may be defined in various regions); anyone with interests in the field, regardless of discipline, period or approach, is welcome to the conceptual workshop.

Adobe Connect allows participation from any networked computer equipped with camera and microphone. To ensure a smooth flow of events, a moderator will manage interventions from various participants, with priority given to a number of core sites but with opportunities for contribution from any participant.

This event is sponsored by the University of California Multi-Campus Research Group “Material Cultures of Knowledge, 1500-1800,” funded by the University of California Humanities Network and the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

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