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Archives and Human Rights: Questioning Notions of Information and Access


Archives and libraries have been closely aligned in advocating for human rights and social justice more broadly in many cases, but a number of factors unique to archives problematize commonly accepted rhetoric in library and information studies (LIS). Specifically, archives call into question three dominant discursive tropes in LIS: the primacy of informational value (as opposed to evidential value in archives); universal access as a professional and ethical obligation; and the assumption that information institutions are universally benevolent. Although such tropes have been increasingly challenged by growing numbers of critical LIS scholars, we argue that they remain dominant discursive formations in LIS and reflect key areas of divergence that differentiate archives from libraries and distinguish the professional ethos of archivists and librarians.

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