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An Archaeology of Archaeological Archives

February 2, 2012

HARN workshop will be held on Saturday 14 April 2012 at Birkbeck College, London.

Abstract: Derrida writes that archives are disjointed between two forces ‘..a movement of the promise and of the future no less than of recording the past’ (1998: 29). Similarly, the archival turn in the humanities has moved from archive-as-source to archive-as-subject (Stoler 2009: 44). In archaeology, this shift needs to factor in archive-as-practice. Archives are the primary repositories of archaeological data, yet there is a tendency to treat them as simple sources of documentation, rather than as objects themselves, or as colonial or institutional instruments. What are the challenges in working with legacy data? What can the form of the archaeological archive tell us about the formation of archaeological knowledge? On what terms do archaeologists bring the making of the archive into their archaeological practice?

This workshop brings together scholars from archaeology, anthropology, and architecture that explore subject and practice-based movements in archive study. Bringing the two forces of archive together, the meeting considers the temporal qualities of archival investigation and how it relates to past and future, and asks: How can archives be used to explore a more critical approach to the history of archaeology?

For more information:

If you would like to attend, RSVP to Jen Baird ( or Lesley Mcfadyen (

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