Archival Science

Research in archival science is by nature transgressing the boundaries between different disciplines. On the one hand, it can take shape in historically oriented studies on archives of the past, and on previous archival practises. Archival science is however also to a large extent dealing with contemporary issues, e.g. contemporary heritage processes and questions on the changing meaning of authenticity when archival documents no longer predominantly are fixed on paper. The rise of electronic information management changes the concept of documents and records, and creates common areas of studies with for example library and information science.

At the department of ALM, there is an established competence in the field of appraisal theory. Appraisal is the process whereby it is decided which archival documents are to be preserved for the future, and which documents should be destroyed forever. Thus, it is often the archival system that determines what documents are left for the future – the archivists ultimately govern the future possibility to capture the past. Research on archival appraisal investigates what archival documents are chosen for preservation, and why. Who decides the formation of our documentary heritage, and which considerations and arguments influence these decisions? What fields of human activities are preserved as material cultural evidences in the form of archival documents – from which groups of people and institutions? What are the relationships between appraisal policy and decisions on the one hand, and actual practice on the other? Are there any crucial differences between traditional archival documents and born digital documents, or can they be treated according to the same basic principles?

Another research area being developed at the department concerns the position of archives in contemporary society. What are the consequences, for example, of the shift in the archival profession from heritage concerns to records and information management within contemporary organizations? Another aspect is the rise of electronic records, which has induced a deep concern about threats to personal integrity, not least because of the vast amounts of data collected. There are many research topics to be explored, for example the general debate and the legislative changes in the area, where interests of personal integrity often clash with the principles of freedom of information and long-term archival preservation. Here, there are many possibilities of collaboration with other disciplines such as social sciences, law, and history.

Participing scholars

Reine Rydén

Samuel Edquist

Isto Huvila