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Accepted Paper:

Documents of a changing world: reflections on the challenge of staying responsible to the manner in which personal archives are embedded in place and the relationships which constitute it.  
Marc Higgin (CRESSON, Grenoble)

Paper short abstract:

This paper takes as its subject a personal archive of photographs of a place and its inhabitants spanning a century of change, reflecting on the challenge, as an anthropologist, in being responsible to its logic of documentation in which knowing cannot be disentangled from relationship.

Paper long abstract:

The documents considered here are photographs. More precisely, a collection of photographs of a place and its inhabitants that span more than a century. The place is Séchilienne, a ‘commune’ in the foothills of the alps on the outskirts of Grenoble that was the site of my fieldwork as part of multi-disciplinary project called Trajectories. The aim of the wider project was to understand and model how society and environment evolve together over time, taking three alpine valleys as its sites of study. As an anthropologist, my interest was in understanding change as a socio-ecological phenomenon from the viewpoint of everyday practices of inhabiting this particular place. It is in Séchilienne that I was introduced to Bernard. A local, he has spent his life visiting and talking with his more or less distant kin on this mountainside, drinking gnôle and listening to their stories. As well as collecting their photographs. These photographs are a form of documentation in which change - of a landscape, its people and their ways of life - became not just visible (and extractable as data-points for an exogenous model of the dynamics of socio-ecosystems) but situated, felt and made sense of, within the relationships in which Bernard has come to know this place.

The aim, in this paper, is to reflect on this collection as a form of documentation, and the challenge, as an anthropologist, in staying responsible to its logic in which knowing cannot be disentangled from relationship.

Panel Evid07a
Responsible documentation? I
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 March, 2021, -