Archival Thinking

In 2018, with colleagues in archival studies, I founded the Archival Discourses (International Intellectual History of Archival Studies) research network to promote the study of the transnational and transcultural development of archival thinking.

The network was established following discussions – long present in the literature – about the need for a clearer picture of the development of archival practices, theories and traditions in different national and social contexts, and their transposition and movement over time. The objective of the IIHAS network is to illuminate this history to better understand inherited ideas and present day norms. IIHAS pursues this objective by promoting the translation of canonical archival texts across languages, encouraging new research in archival and administrative history, particularly history that situates current issues and developments in historical context, and by providing forums for sharing information with practitioners of archival science and scholars in other fields.

The current activities of the network include a special issue of Archival Science, ‘Archival Thinking: Genealogies and Archaeologies’, and the crowdsourcing of a new manual of archives administration to mark the 100th anniversary of Sir Hilary Jenkinson’s manual. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the rapid evolution and expansion of archival theory over that century.

My own research in this area involves a critical look at the development of records management as an operation of bureuacratic power.