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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Archive Research Contd....

How do we ensure objectivity in Research?
The Subjectivity/ Objectivity question in Archival Research.
A Work is said to be objective,
if the existing knowledge on the topic is reiterated,
if the new knowledge is expressed in existing modes of academic representation,
if the writing does not refer to subjective experience and the writing subject is seen detached, from the work,
if citations are given, a work is said to be objective.
Interestingly, computer has become a metaphor of objectivity!

Book to read : Derrida, Archival Fever
Cultural studies show that Theory is one way of performance.
The Concept of Archives
Archives do not seem to be part of oriental cultures. The museums are often filled with folklore artifacts and some tribal antiquities. Preserving historical documents have not been taken seriously in India. The very sense of Archive is found in wanting in this region. Looking at this scenario one can say that
The project of modernism is only half built in India.

Do's and don’ts of the archives
1. Unlike novel or poem, for a historian the documents are not intended for the eyes. The content is more important for him/her.
2. Read the archival documents lovingly.
3. You formulate the ideas after reading them not while reading.
4. You critique a text of history on the basis of a larger historical perspective, not on the individual stories written there.
5. The literature guys keep reading things neglected by other disciplines and vice versa. E.g. There is an interest in Shakespeare in other disciplines while in English Department it is les
6. Women studies have used the archival studies seriously. ‘My studies begin” the story of Justice Ranade’s wife is one such.
7. Archives are residues of modernity.
8. Museums and archives are the first building blocks of the nation states. Bombay National Musuem has letters from Afganisthan, Burma, Sri Lanka. The museum was the mark of a territory that belonged to the British. A Nation talks of its area, through its museums.
If there are no museums no nations????
9. Archives and museums are also instruments of totalitarianism. It registers, classifies, archives etc.... events and people. The state can do whatever it wants if the unique Identification Number is implemented on all citizens. This could be sometimes dangerous, threatening the citizens (persons) State is the perpetrator of the largest proportion of violence.
10. Who collects the data in the archives? It is important to ask questions like these? What are the ideological purposes that they serve?
11. It is important not to photocopy but transcript. These documents are precious.
12. Time management: organising
13. Read archival material with the clear idea that there is a lot more than what is available. All that we have got of the Greek literature is only 3-4 percent of the total. The great idea of the Greeks is formed from this small percentage. Think how much is lost.

The content is the class note of Jijo K.P. on Anil’s Lectures on Archval Research (Part II) for MA English II Yrs. On 30th June.

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