The writer-director Stephen Poliakoff’s thematic concerns with history and memory have repeatedly returned to the archive as a site of discovery. Poliakoff’s use, and exploration, of archives in his work has coincided with a marked rise in mainstream cultural engagement with archives for personal use, as well as an archival turn in literary scholarship. This article explores the different types of archive and archival material found in Poliakoff’s dramas for stage and screen, mapping the topography of public and private archives in his work, in turn revealing the commentaries these dramas are making about how we create and use archives, and who and what they are for.
Stephen Poliakoff and the Archive
Elizabeth C. Macknight
This article presents two case studies, from Scotland and the Scottish Islands, of communities' engagement with archives and their attitudes toward heritage. The case studies arise out of knowledge transfer between an historian employed in an academic role at a Scottish university and two “third sector“ organizations. By comparing the perspectives of historians, archivists, and community organizations the article shows the different ways in which these separate interest groups perceive the value of archives. It then points to some of the possibilities and challenges of working collaboratively to deepen understanding about the past and to create wider opportunities, now and in the future, for historical interpretation, teaching, learning, and research. In the era of digital technologies, it is recommended that undergraduate students be taught the key concepts of archival theory and practice, while also being encouraged to experience working with original archival documents.
Digital Archives and Memory Production
How can the online distribution of heritage facilitate successful forms of collective online memory production? Two online archives from India are taken as case studies to analyze practices that make online archives effective as devices for recalling and constructing the Indian past. It is not only contextual conditions of the Internet age, but also particular applied practices of presenting, communicating, and using social media that enable it. Yet, the analysis of the two recently created online archives, which are partially driven by the idea of widening access, show that they do not so much set up counterpositions to established conceptions of archives as regulating entities, but rather aim at becoming acknowledged heritage agents.
A Study of Travel Archives
Lee Arnold and Thomas van der Walt
People’s travel collections serve as a memory aid to help them write travelogues, novels, or scientific reports when they return home. They may also have merely been a way to document a voyage or journey for future generations. Under the surface of any of these end uses is simply the need to collect, the need to hold on to memory—in the form of material culture, ephemera, photographic documentation or assiduous note taking. Travel archives are the materials (either in manuscript form or printed ephemera) that document the purposeful travel of an individual or group. Like family papers, they may be perceived as having limited value beyond their fellow travelers or family members. Irrespective of the motivation of the traveler, these collections often end up in repositories. How an archivist deals with this material is crucial to its future use.
The Plundered Archives of the Palestinian Cinema Institution and Cultural Arts Section
One of the biggest acts of plunder by Israel was of a vast Palestinian film archive looted by Israeli military forces in Beirut in 1982. The films are managed under the repressive colonial control of the Israel Defense Forces Archive, which thus conceals many of them and information regarding their origin. This article documents my efforts to disclose the films and locate their institutions in Beirut, to chart their history, name their film-makers and open a discussion about returning them. It also provides a deeper understanding of colonial mechanisms of looting and truth production. I discuss the Third Palestine Cinema Movement and the various institutions that were part of the Palestinian revolution in the 1970s, with a focus on the Cultural Arts Section managed by Ismail Shammout.
How the Komsomol Archive Enriched My Understanding of Gender in Soviet War Culture
Adrienne M. Harris
In this article, I detail how archival finds helped me develop questions on World War II martyr heroes and their role in Soviet culture and Russian collective memory. I consider how one might approach silences, read discrepancies in archival holdings, and extrapolate meaning from various kinds of documents. Considering that the Russian State Archive of Sociopolitical History Komsomol archive allows one to study the evolution of gender via the continuous reshaping of feminine and masculine ideals for Soviet youth, I discuss how the archive might open up new research areas and prompt additional questions for gender historians, and lead one to reconsider power and authority in the Soviet past.
This article recounts how I came to write for the Pan-African magazine, New African, and draws on my personal experience as a columnist to discuss a range of issues, including the challenges I faced writing for a non-academic publication as well as the controversies that arose within the magazine over my own racial identity. I also highlight how opinion writing, in particular, tends to generate a highly personalized form of criticism, in which the author rather than his or her ideas can come under attack. I conclude by arguing that if the humanities are to survive the current economic crisis, which has caused many to question the utility of a liberal arts education, universities need to more actively support the efforts of scholars who are writing for audiences beyond the narrow confines of academia.
In recent years, “the archive“ as both a concept and an object has been undergoing a transformation. The increased availability of still and video cameras, analog and then digital, has led to a proliferation of indexical documents outside of official archives and prompted questions about what constitutes an “archive,“ and, hence, what constitute “archival documents.“ At the same time, filmmakers are appropriating sounds and images from various sources, thereby breaking down the distinction between “found“ and “archival“ documents. This situation calls for a reformulation of the very notion of the archival document. This article reframes the archival document not as an object but as a spectatorial experience or a relationship between viewer and text. I contend that certain appropriated audiovisual documents produce for the viewer what I call the “archive effect“ and that this encounter endows these documents with a particular kind of authority as “evidence.“
W. S. F. Pickering
The Centre very much appreciates the donation of Mrs Margaret M. Jeffrey of English translations by her late husband, Professor William Jeffrey, Jr, of works written by Durkheim and his group, especially Mauss and Fauconnet. Professor Jeffrey was professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati for many years. It was while he was studying law at the University of Chicago that he came under the influence of teachers in sociology.
Blogs and the Recent History of Dispossessed Academic Labor
Claire Bond Potter
A contemporary history of higher education in the United States is being written on the Internet. Academic bloggers interrupt and circumvent the influence of professional associations over debates about unemployment, contingent labor, publishing, tenure review, and other aspects of creating and maintaining a scholarly career. On the Internet, limited status and prestige, as well as one's invisibility as a colleague, are no barrier to acquiring an audience within the profession or creating a contemporary archive of academic labor struggles. At a moment of financial and political crisis for universities, these virtual historians have increasingly turned their critical faculties to scrutinizing, critiquing, and documenting the neoliberal university. Although blogging has not displaced established sources of intellectual prestige, virtual historians are engaged in the project of constructing their own scholarly identities and expanding what counts as intellectual and political labor for scholars excluded from the world of full-time employment.