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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Perpetuating and Extending the Archival Paradigm: The Historical and Contemporary Roles of Professional Education and Pedagogy


Archival Science has been defined as the systematic body of theory that supports the practice of appraising, acquiring, authenticating, preserving, and providing access to recorded materials. In the first of a two-part analysis of the past, present and future of archival education and pedagogy, this article deconstructs the concept of Archival Science by examining the development and evolution of its key ideas and principles, and the historical interplay between them and such constructs as modernism, objectivity, scientific management, nationalism, sovereignty, and colonialism. It argues that education in Archival Science, which traditionally has included elements of both professional practice and scholarship and which has only scantily reflected upon the pedagogies it has employed, has played a fundamental role in perpetuating the cultural hegemony of dominant groups. It has done so by inculcating archival ideas and principles without simultaneously providing sufficient historical analysis of their derivations or original intent, and without nurturing a critical perspective that would encourage sensitivity on the part of future archival professionals and scholars to the cultural and social implications of what are often regarded as “value-neutral” concepts and practices, particularly in terms of their impact on the record-keeping and memory practices of marginalized and under-represented groups.

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