The International PhD Workshop “The Ways of Archiving. Practices, Conditions and Discourses around the Study of Arts and Culture” opens a space for PhD training around the problem of archives, sources and fieldwork in the discipline of History, with a special focus on the study of Contemporary Art and Visual Culture.
Submission deadline: 31 May 2022
To this end, the Workshop is divided into several theoretical and practical sessions, as well as a series of visits to archives and documentation centers in Spain and France. The aim of this formative space is to offer a critical and transversal approach to intrinsic and current issues related to the archival device and its associated practices. Ultimately, the originality of this Research Workshop lies in its dialogical vocation as it will bring together PhD students with national and international experts, generating a space for exchange that will enrich their ongoing research.
Because they provide the raw material that shapes historical narratives, archives are a long-standing theoretical and practical concern. Their anachronistic quality, as repositories of the past read in the light of the present, has given them an enduring interest: archives revealed themselves as historically situated devices inscribed in concrete social, political and economic structures. In recent decades, several voices have considered how archives can also enable critical interventions in these structures. Ultimately, these new approaches seek to explore the archive’s capacity to interrupt the hegemonic conditions of historical enunciation and to unveil other forms of collective experience buried by the historical canon.
In this broader perspective, the objective of this International PhD Workshop is to further explore the current debates around the issue of archiving, specifically those that emerge from the interaction between consolidated forms of historical knowledge and their critical counterpoints. The International Workshop will be structured in four axes, within which different lines of work/questions will be explored:
Axis 1 – Potential Histories (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Session guided by Shaheen Merali (artist, researcher and independent curator).
Axis 1 revolves around the notion of “Potential History” formulated by Ariella Azoulay (2019), which alludes to the unrealized but still latent historical possibilities in colonial and postcolonial contexts. This axis will address the role of archives in the information and knowledge systems that accompanied the modern colonial project (Richards, 1993). We will work on the imprint of imperialism in the production of historical knowledge, as well as on the framework of possibilities for the re-signification and contestation of such coordinates from the present of our research.
The proposed lines for this axis are:
-Is it possible to recover the memory of colonial museums and, at the same time, address an urgent historical reparation? Ethical and political positions on the use of State and other archives that are a result of centuries of colonial domination.
-How to approach “minor archives” or archives of dispossession (Artières, 2006)? Strategies for reactivating archives that have been forgotten, neglected or denigrated by traditional historiography or institutional indifference; ways of constructing a research project based on them.
-Is it possible to formulate a transnational historiography? How do archives make it possible? Conditions of enunciation, power and distribution of intellectual work; practical and epistemological possibilities for the creation of a transnational historical paradigm that overcomes colonial structures.
Axis 2 – The Publics of the Archive (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Session guided by Fernanda Carvajal (University of Buenos Aires).
Axis 2 asks about the role of archives in the preservation and research of the memory of communities and collectives usually forgotten by official histories. In line with the debates and redefinition of the concept of “publics”, this critical way of thinking about archives also implies a questioning of the very concept of audience and a reflection on the collaboration and participation of communities in the preservation and re-reading of their own memory (Dannaiau 2013).
– What are the processes of creation of community archives? Alternative experiences of archive management and formation; working with “living” archives, in continuous modification by the communities that generate them; ethical implications in working with community archives.
– How does the notion of “authority” of the archival system impact our research? And that of “shared authority” (Frisch, 1990)? Ways of dealing with the “rigor” imposed in the different historical disciplines when working with community archives; the problem of legal issues in the deposit and preservation of archives in public and private institutions.
– How is an archive socialized? Experiences around the activation of archives in the present; issues and difficulties of mediation in museums and other cultural institutions; challenges and curatorial possibilities when working with community archives.
Axis 3 – Fieldworks (Université Grenoble Alpes)
Session guided by Vinicius Spricigo (Universidade Federal de São Paulo).
Axis 3 seeks to reflect on the practical side of documentation work, which is also ethical and political. In this axis we will explore the ways of working in historical and artistic archives (e.g. State, museums, biennials’ archives, etc.) currently in force, and how they dialogue with or have been transformed by the tools proposed by history “from below”(Lefebvre). In this sense, we will also ask ourselves about the possibilities of recording, reproduction and access, and the importance of organizing work methodologies according to criteria of truth, justice and/or reparation without renouncing the creativity intrinsic to the process of historical research (Sing, 2018; Steedman, 2001).
– How do we define the archive or documentary corpus of our research? How and why do we choose an archive? Strategies for designing, expanding or reformulating the documentary corpus of an investigation; processes for creating this corpus.
– How does our research interact, impact or transform existing archives? Dialogue and collective work with archivists and archival communities; interactions with oral history; impact of dissemination and transfer of research on the formation of archives.
– What tools can we use when working in these archives? The role of photography, notes, recordings, and their uses in historical research; the use of new technologies during fieldwork (digital humanities, recording programs and databases).
Axis 4 – Archive and Materiality (Université Grenoble Alpes)
Session guided by Beatriz Tadeo Fuica (Université Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle).
Axis 4 will discuss how to deal with the fragility of sources and/or the difficulty of accessing them, insisting on the triple material dimension that accompanies archival research: on the one hand, the very materiality of the document, its preservation and/or fragility; on the other hand, the resources available to the archival institutions themselves, their conditions of access and use; finally, the material conditions of the researcher him/herself to carry out his/her research (Tadeo Fuica, 2017). In this sense, a transnational and decolonial view of the archival institution will be mobilized, contrasting and questioning the conditions of enunciation of the archives of the North and the Global South.
– What to do in the face of the difficulties of access to the archival holdings essential to our doctoral thesis? Geographical dispersion, virtual overabundance, inaccessibility, uncatalogued holdings, gaps in documentation, missing or lost sources.
– How to deal with archives on the web? How has the technological transformation and digitization of institutional archives affected the accessibility of holdings? (Tadeo Fuica & Keldjian, 2016) The problem of archival technologies and their dematerialization; consequences and possibilities of new technologies in documentation work.
– How to deal with elusive or scarcely systematized or preserved corpora, how to approach low-budget productions, unique, independent or amateur pieces? The role of copies and reproductions and their circulation; strategies of incorporation or testimony of the fragility or elusive condition of these images in an academic communication.
Each day of the Workshop will focus on one of the proposed axes and they will be divided into three parts: a Discussion Session, a Reading Workshop and a Visit to an Archive or Research Center. The Discussion Session will begin with a presentation by the invited researcher, followed by the intervention of the PhD researchers assigned to the axis in question. This will be followed by the Reading Workshop, in which the questions and issues raised in the Discussion Session will be discussed in depth through a set of proposed texts. Each axis will conclude with a Visit to an Archive or Research Center that constitutes a practical case of the notions discussed during the day. This scheme will be repeated in each of the four days of the Workshop.
Conditions and practical information:
The International Workshop includes several modalities of participation: it will be possible to attend the two days held in Madrid, the two days held in Grenoble or the whole Workshop. However, in order to give continuity to the event, priority will be given to proposals from researchers who choose the latter option.
Proposals will be considered from PhD researchers working in disciplines such as History, Art History, (Audio)visual Culture, Fine Arts, Cultural Anthropology and other related areas. Candidates will be asked to assign their proposal to one or more of the four axes of the Workshop, and they will have ten minutes to share it during the second part of the Discussion Sessions.
Applications should be addressed to one of the workshop axes (1. Potential Histories, 2. The Publics of the Archives, 3. Fieldworks, 4. Archive and Materiality), including a 300-word abstract and a biographical note.
Dates: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), September, 12-13 / Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes (Grenoble, France), September, 15-16.
Send proposals through the following form:
Contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline: May 31, 2022
Languages: Spanish, English and French.
Registration, participation and activities included in the Workshop program are free of charge; travel and accommodation expenses will be covered by the participants.
Organizing Committee: Paula Barreiro López (UGA), Alejandra Crescentino (UAM), Inés Molina (UAM), Anita Orzes (UGA/UB), Mónica Salcedo (UAM) y Lola Visglerio Gómez (UAM).
Scientific Committee: Paula Barreiro López (Université Grenoble Alpes), Juliane Debeusscher (Centre Allemand d’Histoire de l’Art, París), Noemí de Haro (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Patricia Mayayo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Alejandra Crescentino (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Inés Molina (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Anita Orzes (Université Grenoble Alpes / Universidad de Barcelona), Mónica Salcedo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Lola Visglerio Gómez (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid).
This International Workshop is the result of a collaboration between the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and the Université Grenoble Alpes. It is organized in the framework of the Research Project “The Publics of Contemporary Art and Visual Culture in Spain. New Forms of Collective Artistic Experience since the 1960s” (PID2019-105800GB-I00), and the scientific activities of the Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA) of the Université Grenoble Alpes and the International Research Platform Modernidad(es) Descentralizada(s).