From „source“ to „document“ to „data“: the archive as trading zone of historical knowledge production

Prof. Andreas Fickers, University of Luxembourg


Since the 19th century, archives have been developing best practices for the selection, documentation and preservation of historical sources. As knowledge infrastructures, they developed important standards and techniques of dealing with diverse historical traditions and have turned into gatekeepers of our cultural heritage. This lecture aims at reflecting on the challenges that the digital age is confronting such institutions of „trust“ and „embodied expertise“ with. The shift from „preservation“ to „accessibility“ in terms of public legitimation of archival institutions has affected the „control zone“ of the archive as historical knowledge broker.
Using the concept of „trading zone“, the lecture will discuss the negotiation of new forms of collaboration between archives and its users and identify a number of „boundary objects“ that can be analysed as being at the heart of the current renegotiation of expertise and practices of archival research.