On anarchivism: perpetuating the postmodern turn within archival thought


Work data:

Alternate URL:

Type of work: Working Paper


Knowledge Management




Postmodern theorist Jean-François Lyotard expresses concern over a particular â slackeningâ or an implicit liberalization that is slowly pervading across disciplines as diverse as art history, philosophy, and politics. Thinkers, he believes, are witnessing the invasion of the postmodern and are accordingly battening down the hatches of the â uncompleted project of modernism.' By extension, one can easily assume that this is occurring across disciplines beyond those that Lyotard mentions explicitly. Accordingly, one may begin to see such ripples within the pond of archives that many of us dip our feet, wade, or completely submerge ourselves in. In this paper, I will primarily discuss Verne Harrisâ conceptions of the postmodern and their implications for the archival profession. I feel that a postmodern analysis of the archival is important, but we must still go further to create a radical conception of it. There is a large divide between theory and praxis in the archival world; while theory is definitely important, we must often step outside it to solve our problems. Rather than relying on it as a normative basis for archival practice we should continue to reevaluate and reconstruct our theories and practices into an â anarchivist program.


logo of PDF file
Full document:
Matienzo, M.A. (2002). On anarchivism: perpetuating the postmodern turn within archival thought. [mimeo]