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Permeable Binaries, Societal Grand Challenges, and the Roles of the Twenty-first-century Archival and Recordkeeping Profession


Building upon recent work, this paper demonstrates how 21st century recordkeeping concerns are integral to societal grand challenges that have been identified by governments, think tanks, scholarly organisations and affected communities around the globe. Using the example of forced displacement and migration the paper focuses on ways in which recordkeeping is inextricably linked to both the causes and possible digital, policy and educational mechanisms for addressing certain aspects of societal grand challenges. These linkages are significantly under-explored and under-addressed in our field. The paper's principal arguments are that archives and recordkeepers have social and ethical responsibilities toward those individuals who are least empowered to engage with official records and recordkeeping practices or to maintain their own records; and that responding will require implementing archival and recordkeeping practices and policy at supra-national and meta-archival levels. The paper suggests some actions and reconceptualisations therefore, that might move us in that direction.

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