Neate, Hannah, Craggs, Ruth and Ashmore, Paul
Working-with: talking and sorting in personal archives.
Journal of Historical Geography, 38
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhg.2011.06.002
This paper draws upon experiences of working in a personal archive in a domestic space in order to contribute to recent debates about archival formation, conduct and practice. By exploring the collaborative practices of working-with an archive owner in ordering and cataloguing a collection, we provide methodological insights into how historical geography research is carried out. Although such working-with in archives is, we argue, a common practice amongst researchers, these interactions with others are often absent from published work. This paper provides an explicit discussion of these often hidden collaborations and socialities, highlighting their importance for the conduct of archival research in three specific areas. First, we show how working-with actively (re)shapes and (re)makes archival materials and the stories that emerge from them. Second, we argue that working-with the owners of archives, but doing so without clearly defined research aims and going against the grain of productivist methods of working, can be rewarding both within and beyond academia. Third, in focussing on working-with, the paper extends conceptions of the archive and archival practice.We argue that the domestic setting of archival work produces particular patterns of archival conduct and disrupts the boundaries of collections themselves.
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