Archives and the Archival Turn

Archivio Apostolico Vaticano

The 2021 MOVE spring seminars will be dedicated to the topic Archives and the Archival Turn. The first seminar, Archival Gaps, takes place via Zoom,

Wednesday 10 February (12:15-13:45)

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The topic of this seminar is Archival Gaps. Absence of data is a fact of life for researchers, and absences are particularly prominent in the study of people and groups whose voices were historically excluded or ignored. The archival turn offers us new possibilities for engaging productively with these gaps and following their traces into the past.  This seminar will focus on these gaps and how various fields have grappled with their challenge.

Blossom Stefaniw (MF/CAS) will talk about theories and methods for working with archival gaps. She will survey some of the approaches that are available in other fields and discuss how to use them in studies of religion. Currently, theories of archival gaps are coming out of academic fields such as Fan Fiction Studies, Cultural Studies, Post-Colonial Studies and Feminist and Queer Studies. Why have disciplines specializing in the study of religion so far not produced their own approaches to archives and archival gaps? 

Esther Brownsmith (MF/CAS) will talk about absence and presence in the archive. She will introduce some of the main vocabulary (“Archival Turn,” “traces,” “fault lines,” etc.). Brownsmith will then apply these concepts to one case study, the Book of Esther, and explore how its texts and archive interact with gender.  With its playful attitude toward textual documentation, the book offers a nuanced depiction of how archival activity can be appropriated and even subverted — but what “ghosts” still haunt this reimagined archive? 

The seminar is in collaboration with the CAS-project Books Known Only by Title: Exploring the Gendered Structures of the First Millennium Imagined Library (2020/2021).


12:15: Welcome 

12:20: Blossom Stefaniw, Methods for Working with Archival Gaps

12:40: Short break

12:50: Esther Brownsmith, Absence and Presence in the Archive

13:10: Short break

13:20: Discussion and bibliography production

13:45: End of the seminar

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