Thursday, May 04, 2006

CFP: The Digital Archive

via the Humanist Discussion Group:

Image (&) Narrative (www.imageandnarrative.be), a peer reviewed, online journal published by the University of Leuven (Belgium), is inviting submissions for a special issue on:

The Digital Archive

In human societies memory is organized in two basic forms: material forms (tablets, paintings, books, etc.) on the one hand and immaterial forms (oral history, dances, songs, etc.) on the other hand. These forms represent two organizing principles that function in different ways. While material forms of memory are fixed, immaterial ways of remembering are fluid. Tablets, paintings, texts, & are affirmative and stable, while conversations, oral traditions, ... have a more ambiguous or dialogic' character. Especially in western societies, the first organizing principle has gained more authority. Material memory' has laid the foundation of modern bureaucracy and of every industrial or post-industrial company. Contracts and laws are the most evident examples of material memory' which guarantee the relative stability necessary for every modern organization. In this context, the classical archive often functions as a library of proof' on which societies can always rely when appointments are discussed, rules are violated or facts are disputed. In other words, the classical archive as a reservoir of material memory is one of the crucial foundations that have made modern society & modern.

The introduction of digital databases transforms the way Western societies use their archives. The most visible result of digitization is of course the fact that the classical archive, once digitized, becomes a more fluid one. Although it may not become as instable as conversations, oral history or urban legends, the possibility of permanent transformation is real. As soon as new data enter a networked archive, the database can reorganize itself just as oral legends transform over time when the storyteller or the audience changes. At least we can say that the digital archive is a strange hybrid between material and immaterial memory machines. But in the digital era classical' archives do not disappear. Just as the paperless' office has proven a fiction (utopian or dystopian, following the sources), the world of archives is not one-dimensional. Classical and digital archives coexist, not always pacifically, their respective logics, areas and scopes interact, and their users have to switch permanently from one type of archive to another.

Deadline for submissions: 1st of November 2006
Please contact:
jan.baetens@arts.kuleuven.be
rudi.laermans@soc.kuleuven.be
pascal.gielen@soc.kuleuven.be
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