Friday, March 21, 2008

Wales and Dust

Here's a link to an archives conference, Archive Fervour /Archive Further Literature, Archives,and Literary Archives to be held in Aberystwyth, Wales this July. A keynote speaker will be Professor Carolyn Steedman who teaches history at the University of Warwick and whose research interests include the construction of self-identity. She is the author of Dust: The Archive and Cultural History.

An SAA review essay, published in American Archivist (Vol. 66, No.2, Fall/Winter 2003) includes this:

To begin with, Dust is heavily steeped in the academic brew of postmodernist semiotics. For the gleefully uninitiated, semiotics involves seeing human experience, in all its minute expression, as signs or symbols. The word “refrigerator” does not identify an appliance, it connotes humanity’s desire/need to safeguard food stuffs.

Yes, I can relate to this. The Ojibwe word for freezer translated into English means "stingy box". I found a copy of this book at the university library and began reading it. My favorite sentence in the book is this one, which can be found on page 81:

The Archive is (the) kind of place that is to do with longing and appropriation. It has to do with wanting things that are put together, collected, collated, named in lists and indices; a place where a whole world, a social order,may be imagined by the recurrence of a name in a register, through a scrap of paper, or some other little piece of flotsam.

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