|Title||Fashionable Nonsense or Professional Rebirth: Postmodernism and the Practice of Archives|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2001|
|Volume||nr 51, Spring 2001|
Postmodern concepts offer possibilities for enriching the practice of archives. Scholars in a wide range of disciplines are looking anew at authorship, media, representation, organizational behaviour, individual and collective memory, cultural institutions, history, and, most recently, at archives themselves as institutions, activities, and records. Postmodernism is, therefore, addressing almost every thing an archivist thinks and touches, and, as a result, should command the attention of all archivists. While postmodernism is difficult to define and fraught with controversy, it would be irresponsible not to engage with ideas that are fundamentally affecting society, and society’s perception and use of the archive.
This essay seeks to accomplish six things: it starts by outlining what critics are saying against postmodernism; then suggests why postmodernism is important to archivists; then traces how the world has evolved to conditions of postmodernity and how these resonate for archivists; explains the key concepts of postmodernism; reviews briefly what postmodernists are saying about archives and records; and concludes by suggesting some practical implications of postmodernist thinking that might make the archival experience richer for archivists and their clients.