Overview of content related to 'ahrc' http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/taxonomy/term/14936/all?article-type=&term=&organisation=&project=&author=andrew%20flinn&issue= RSS feed with Ariadne content related to specified tag en An Attack on Professionalism and Scholarship? Democratising Archives and the Production of Knowledge http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue62/flinn <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser-article"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="/issue62/flinn#author1">Andrew Flinn</a> describes some recent developments in democratising the archive and asks whether these developments really deserve to be viewed as a threat to professional and academic standards.</p> </div> </div> </div> <!-- version 2, based on author responses to edited version; 2010-02-12-17-27-rew --><!-- version 2, based on author responses to edited version; 2010-02-12-17-27-rew --><p>This article was originally delivered as a paper for the 'Archives 2.0: Shifting Dialogues Between Users and Archivists' conference organised by the University of Manchester's ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) in March 2009. The paper came at an opportune time. I was absorbed in a research project examining independent and community archival initiatives in the UK and exploring the possibilities of user- (or community-)generated and contributed content for archives and historical research [<a href="#1">1</a>]. Furthermore I had just received referees' comments on a proposed research project examining the potential impact of the latter developments on professional archival practice. Whilst two of the reports were very positive, one was more than a little hostile. The reviewer was scathing about the focus of the proposed research on the democratisation of knowledge production, dismissing the notion as part of a short-term political agenda that was detrimental to the idea of scholarship and one with which the archive profession should not concern itself. In particular, scorn was reserved for the idea that, in future archive catalogues, many 'voices' might be enabled 'to supplement or even supplant the single, authoritative, professional voice', an idea which was described as being, <em>in extremis</em>, 'a frontal attack on professionalism, standards and scholarship'.</p> <p>At the time of receiving this review and considering my response, I was also beginning to write my paper for the conference and had already decided that my theme would be democratising the archive. However I realised that these comments neatly encapsulated a powerful and genuine strand of thinking within the archive profession and academia more generally, which one might loosely term 'traditional'. Although there are now many user-generated content archive and heritage projects in existence, and terms such as participatory archives, Archives 2.0 and even History 2.0 are an increasingly common part of professional discourse [<a href="#2">2</a>], some, perhaps many, archivists and scholars remain deeply sceptical about the need for a democratisation of the archive and of scholarship.</p> <p>In the end the research project was supported by the AHRC despite the critical review and has now commenced [<a href="#3">3</a>]. However, in this brief article I will try to respond to this strand of thinking by, first identifying what is meant by the democratisation of the archive and why advocates of such a thing believe it to be important. I will then briefly introduce two different but linked developments (independent or community archives and user- or community-generated content), which in harness with new technologies might play a role in such a democratisation, and in so doing challenge aspects of traditional archival thinking and practice. Finally I will offer a few thoughts on the shifts in our understanding of the archive and the resistance to those shifts. Ultimately, I will suggest that rather than viewing this debate as one between the expert (or the academic or the professional) and the crowd, it is in the concept of communities that the key might be found. A successful democratised and participatory archive is one which recognises that all those who come into contact with the archive (directly or indirectly), the 'community of the record', can and do affect our understanding and knowledge of that archive.</p> <p></p><p><a href="http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue62/flinn" target="_blank">read more</a></p> issue62 feature article andrew flinn ahrc alt mla smithsonian institution the national archives university college london university of manchester university of oxford archives hub wikipedia archives blog cataloguing curation data digitisation dissemination framework identifier preservation repositories research web 2.0 wiki Sat, 30 Jan 2010 00:00:00 +0000 editor 1524 at http://www.ariadne.ac.uk