P098
[Re:]engagements: the ethnographic archive and its contemporary and future affordances

Convenors:
Paul Basu (SOAS)
Noel Lobley (University of Virginia)
Stream:
Panels
Location:
U6-25
Start time:
22 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

Explores the affordances of the ethnographic archive - including collections, photographs, sound recordings, publications, etc. - for contemporary communities and their future-orientated projects. What is the legacy of past anthropological research for differently-situated actors in the present?

Long abstract:

This panel explores the affordances of the ethnographic archive for contemporary communities and their future-orientated projects. This archive encompasses the material and immaterial traces of past anthropological research, including material culture collections, photographs, sound recordings, film, fieldnotes, and publications. We are interested in how communities are engaging with this anthropological legacy in the present, how it is valued (or not valued) and what action possibilities it is perceived to possess. We are also concerned with how institutions such as museums, archives (including sound and visual archives), universities and individuals are using these materials as a medium for re-engaging with communities in the present. How does working with historical ethnographic collections, photographs or sound recordings enable the development of sustainable relationships with differently-situated actors today? The panel explores the on-going entanglements between the histories of anthropology, including anthropological collecting, image-making and sound recording, and the histories and futures of the communities studied. What were the perceived affordances of collections at the time they were assembled? How have these changed over time? To what degree does the archive now constitute a cultural heritage? Have these materials been re-appropriated to inform cultural revival or inspire contemporary artists, for instance? What are the ethical implications when anthropologists seek to actively re-engage present-day communities with the ethnographic archive, for instance by facilitating access to historical sound recordings, photographs and artefacts held by institutions. The panel explores the material, visual and sonic legacies of anthropological research and their reconfiguration in the imagination of human futures.