Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History

Duke University Press
3
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Despite the importance of archives to the profession of history, there is very little written about actual encounters with them—about the effect that the researcher’s race, gender, or class may have on her experience within them or about the impact that archival surveillance, architecture, or bureaucracy might have on the histories that are ultimately written. This provocative collection initiates a vital conversation about how archives around the world are constructed, policed, manipulated, and experienced. It challenges the claims to objectivity associated with the traditional archive by telling stories that illuminate its power to shape the narratives that are “found” there.

Archive Stories brings together ethnographies of the archival world, most of which are written by historians. Some contributors recount their own experiences. One offers a moving reflection on how the relative wealth and prestige of Western researchers can gain them entry to collections such as Uzbekistan’s newly formed Central State Archive, which severely limits the access of Uzbek researchers. Others explore the genealogies of specific archives, from one of the most influential archival institutions in the modern West, the Archives nationales in Paris, to the significant archives of the Bakunin family in Russia, which were saved largely through the efforts of one family member. Still others explore the impact of current events on the analysis of particular archives. A contributor tells of researching the 1976 Soweto riots in the politically charged atmosphere of the early 1990s, just as apartheid in South Africa was coming to an end. A number of the essays question what counts as an archive—and what counts as history—as they consider oral histories, cyberspace, fiction, and plans for streets and buildings that were never built, for histories that never materialized.

Contributors. Tony Ballantyne, Marilyn Booth, Antoinette Burton, Ann Curthoys, Peter Fritzsche, Durba Ghosh, Laura Mayhall, Jennifer S. Milligan, Kathryn J. Oberdeck, Adele Perry, Helena Pohlandt-McCormick, John Randolph, Craig Robertson, Horacio N. Roque Ramírez, Jeff Sahadeo, Reneé Sentilles

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About the author

Antoinette Burton is Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she is the Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies. She is the author of Dwelling in the Archive: Women Writing House, Home, and History in Late Colonial India and At the Heart of the Empire: Indians and the Colonial Encounter in Late-Victorian Britain. She is the editor of After the Imperial Turn: Thinking with and through the Nation and a coeditor of Bodies in Contact: Rethinking Colonial Encounters in World History, both also published by Duke University Press. With Jean Allman, she edits The Journal of Women’s History.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Jan 4, 2006
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Pages
408
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ISBN
9780822387046
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Historiography
History / World
Language Arts & Disciplines / Library & Information Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Antoinette Burton
Santha Rama Rau was one of the best known South Asian writers in postwar America. Born into India’s elite in 1923, Rama Rau has lived in the United States since the 1940s. Although she is no longer well known, she was for several decades a popular expert on India. She provided an insider’s view of Indian cultures, traditions, and history to an American public increasingly aware of the expanded role of the United States on the world stage. Between 1945 and 1970, Rama Rau published half a dozen books, including travelogues, novels, a memoir, and a Time-Life cookbook; she was a regular contributor to periodicals such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, McCall’s, and Reader’s Digest.

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John Lewis Gaddis
What is history and why should we study it? Is there such a thing as historical truth? Is history a science? One of the most accomplished historians at work today, John Lewis Gaddis, answers these and other questions in this short, witty, and humane book. The Landscape of History provides a searching look at the historian's craft, as well as a strong argument for why a historical consciousness should matter to us today. Gaddis points out that while the historical method is more sophisticated than most historians realize, it doesn't require unintelligible prose to explain. Like cartographers mapping landscapes, historians represent what they can never replicate. In doing so, they combine the techniques of artists, geologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists. Their approaches parallel, in intriguing ways, the new sciences of chaos, complexity, and criticality. They don't much resemble what happens in the social sciences, where the pursuit of independent variables functioning with static systems seems increasingly divorced from the world as we know it. So who's really being scientific and who isn't? This question too is one Gaddis explores, in ways that are certain to spark interdisciplinary controversy. Written in the tradition of Marc Bloch and E.H. Carr, The Landscape of History is at once an engaging introduction to the historical method for beginners, a powerful reaffirmation of it for practitioners, a startling challenge to social scientists, and an effective skewering of post-modernist claims that we can't know anything at all about the past. It will be essential reading for anyone who reads, writes, teaches, or cares about history.
Antoinette Burton
The Trouble with Empire contends that dissent and disruption were constant features of imperial experience and that they should, therefore, drive narratives of the modern British imperial past. Moving across the one hundred years between the first Anglo-Afghan war and Gandhi's salt marches, the book tracks commonalities between different forms of resistance in order to understand how regimes of imperial security worked in practice. This emphasis on protest and struggle is intended not only to reveal indigenous agency but to illuminate the limits of imperial power, official and unofficial, as well. "Pax Britannica"-the conviction that peace was the dominant feature of modern British imperialism-remains the working presumption of most empire histories in the twenty-first century. The Trouble with Empire, in contrast, originates from skepticism about the ability of hegemons to rule unchallenged and about the capacity of imperial rule to finally and fully subdue those who contested it. The book follows various forms of dissent and disruption, both large and small, in three domains: the theater of war, the arena of market relations, and the realm of political order. Tracking how empire did and did not work via those who struggled against it recasts ways of measuring not simply imperial success or failure, but its very viability across the uneven terrain of daily power. The Trouble with Empire argues that empires are never finally or fully accomplished but are always in motion, subject to pressures from below as well as above. In an age of spectacular insurgency and counterinsurgency across many of the former possessions of Britain's global empire, such a genealogy of the forces that troubled imperial hegemony are needed now more than ever.
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