Archival collaboration: a two-day international conference on heritage, community, and archives – A Blog post by convener Dr James Fenwick

Banner - Heritage, Community, Archives: Methods, Case Studies, Collaboration Sheffield Hallam University Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th June 2023 Image: Wiki Commons – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

Archival collaboration: a two-day international conference on heritage, community, and archives

On the 12th and 13th June 2023, a two-day conference was convened at Sheffield Hallam University that brought together researchers and archivists from across the world. Titled Heritage, Community, Archives: Methods, Case Studies, Collaboration, the conference sought to initiate collaborations between researchers and archivists and to bridge the gap between professional roles and disciplinary fields. The conference had four key questions it aimed to investigate:

  1. What is the role of archives, archives creation, and archival collaboration in the process of heritage, history, and community?
  2. Whose archives have been preserved? What and whose archives are missing?
  3. How can archivists and researchers in humanities and archival studies engage in a dialogue and constructive work to make liberatory, emancipatory, and community/people-driven archives and histories?
  4. How can archives and archival research be used for activist and social justice work and for radical heritage-making?

In total, there were 78 registered conference delegates, 53 papers, 18 parallel panels, and two conference keynotes. Delegates came from across the world, including South America, North America, continental Europe, and the UK. And delegates were made up of professional archivists, community archivists, and researchers from across arts and humanities disciplines. The first conference keynote was delivered by Dr Hannah Ishmael, fellow at University College London and archivist at the Black Cultural Archives. The second keynote was a panel delivered in collaboration between the Yorkshire Film Archive and the Cinema and Social Justice Project, which is based at York St. John University. The conference panels included discussions of archival praxis, accessibility and disability, archival labour, archival exhibitions, intersectional histories, community archives, building archives, cataloguing archives, archivist-researcher collaboration, creative practice, and archival silences.

The scale of attendance and level of attendance reflects the interest in the conference’s aims and objectives and the desire for a dedicated interdisciplinary space in which archivists and researchers can collaborate. The conference allowed for dialogue between archival studies and academics in fields ranging from film, media, and history, to politics, architecture, performance, media arts, and beyond.

The conference builds on the previous work of Dr James Fenwick in the area of archival studies. The conference stems from the Archives Research Network (ARC), established by Dr Fenwick at Sheffield Hallam University in 2022. The ARC brings together researchers from across disciplines that work with archives, as well as the university’s Special Collections team, to share good practice, discuss work, and collaborate on new projects. The ARC also incorporates members from across the north of England, primarily archivists seeking to join research networks to collaborate with academics. Dr Fenwick also co-convened the conference Disrupting Dominance in the Archives with the University of the Arts London’s Archives and Special Collections Centre (ASCC) in December 2022, and is also convenor of the Archives and Archival Methods Special Interest Group for the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS).

Find the programme available on the Archive Research Community website here. You can also read the conference overview here and the full conference programme online here.

Archive Research Community (ARC)

Organised by: The Archive Research Community (ARC) at SHU.

The Archives Research Community (ARC) is a cross-disciplinary group of like-minded researchers, students, and archivists based at Sheffield Hallam University, in particular the Culture & Creativity Research Institute (CCRI). The ARC launched in November 2022 and meets on a monthly basis. The ARC’s aim and objectives can be viewed here and the membership here.

If you are interested in participating in the ARC or learning more about the group’s work, please email the convenor of the group, James Fenwick here. Dr James Fenwick is Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for BA (Hons) Media. He is the author of Stanley Kubrick Produces (Rutgers University Press, 2020) and co-editor of Shadow Cinema: The Historical and Production Contexts of Unmade Films (Bloomsbury, 2020). His research focus is on the role of the producer, production companies, archives, and cultural industries.

Image: Wiki Commons – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.