Colloque international de doctorant·e·s - Sous la direction des prof. Benoît Turquety (Unil), Simone Venturini (Università degli studi di Udine), et Trond Lundemo (Stockholm University)
DESCRIBING ARCHIVAL OBJECTS
Historians as well as archivists are confronted with material objects, whether as paper or film, or as apparatuses. Texts, moving or still images, sounds, then have to be analysed. Description plays a specific role in that process, as it appears first as a precondition of any possible analytical work, but also as its result, insofar as a complete and relevant description of the object can probably be achieved only after its analysis, if at all.
As opposed to interpretation, description presents itself like an objective procedure. But this seemingly objective dimension is precisely the difficulty the historian or archivist has to question, as the unavoidable choices made in the process may become obstacles rather than tools for the present or any future research. Description should emphasize the relevant aspects of the object: but what are they? What vocabulary should be chosen? Where should the description stop? Should every material aspect be noted, even when they don’t seem to be meaningful or interfere with the text itself? Or should certain parts, or aspects, textures, be considered irrelevant?