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Practicing Archives with a Postmodern Perspective
Kaplan, Elisabeth (2001)

Practicing Archives with a Postmodern Perspective


Issue Date


Despite the near ubiquity of so-called postmodern discourse in the social sciences and humanities over the past two decades, the archival profession has in general been loath to reconsider its self-image as objective guardian of a naturally occurring historical record. The “myth of objectivity and neutrality, “ as Joan Schwartz and Terry Cook have termed it, stems from pioneer archives theorist Sir Hilary Jenkinson, whose 1922 textbook asserted that archivists are the passive, impartial “keepers” of “disinterested” or “innocent” documentary residue inherited from the past. Recently, a growing number of archivists have begun to question this view and have called for the profession to reconsider this naïve, unexamined faith in its own objectivity. Non-archivists, too, have argued provocatively and persuasively on the nature of archives and the role of archivists.


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Previously Published Citation
Kaplan, Elisabeth, "Practicing Archives with a Postmodern Perspective", 2001.

Paper distributed for the Sawyer Seminar program, "Archives, Documentation, and the Institutions of Social Memory," at the University of Michigan, 2001.

Suggested Citation
Kaplan, Elisabeth. (2001). Practicing Archives with a Postmodern Perspective. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.