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Processing the PastContesting Authorities in History and the Archives$
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Francis X. Blouin, Jr and William G. Rosenberg

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199740543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199740543.001.0001

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Archival Essentialism and the Archival Divide

Archival Essentialism and the Archival Divide

(p.85) 5 Archival Essentialism and the Archival Divide
Processing the Past

Francis X. Blouin Jr.

William G. Rosenberg (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter concludes the exploration in Part I of the volume of the changing intersections between historical scholars and archivists—between history and the archives. As archivists embraced the “essential” elements of documentation in response to the challenges of new information technologies, many academic historians were rejecting essentialized notions of where and how authority in history is socially, culturally, and politically located. This short conclusion to part I discusses how and why contemporary archivists now think quite differently than their custodial predecessors about the theoretical parameters of archival practice itself, just as many historians now think quite differently from their “scientific” predecessors about how history is shaped. Archivists and historians have come to train differently, have little understanding or even interest in what the other profession does. The result, as this chapter argues, has been the opening of an “archival divide.”

Keywords:   essentialism, electronic records, records management, identity archives, the archival divide, information technology, functional analysis

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