Conceptualizing the archive and “archive stories”Posted: February 28, 2011
Gosh’s experiences portray archives as “contact zones” wherein interactions with others reveals nationalist perceptions about the archive materials and new interpretations. Are the “archive stories” that emerge from these networks relevant to colonial histories or are they more useful in another form: epilogue, journal article, edited volume? It seems to me that archive stories are most useful for a colonial history when they reflect on the methodological limits the archive creates, rather than nationalist glosses on the interpretation. In other words, since the archive itself–as Milligan, Fritzsche, and Robertson all point out–is a deeply connected to national goals, what can archive stories tell us about history before the nation-state existed?
When are archive stories debilitating to our work? In other words, do we have examples of historical works wherein the archive stories or ethnographic anecdotes are distracting to the work as a whole?