ARLETTE FARGE THE ALLURE OF THE ARCHIVES PDF

Jul 22, Denise Lim rated it it was amazing This is an excellent book for not just the budding historian but also for the layperson. Farge meticulously articulate the intricacies of doing research on archival materials, and at the same time, brings her readers through an almost ritualistic experience of doing research in the archives. Farge presents the start archival research as a rite of passage of some sorts, that once one has learnt the secret codes and rules of the archive, one is then let "in" to acessing the mysteries of the This is an excellent book for not just the budding historian but also for the layperson. Farge presents the start archival research as a rite of passage of some sorts, that once one has learnt the secret codes and rules of the archive, one is then let "in" to acessing the mysteries of the archives. The end goal of obtaining the "in" is hugely satisfying.

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It is an unmistakable classic: one of the great memoirs of the silent, day-to-day drama of research. Yet it is not the story of a career.

A reader unfamiliar with her name will soon enough recognize that Farge specializes in 18th century social history. She is director of research in modern history at the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, in Paris. It was an edition of selected lettres de cachet from the files of the Bastille.

Many an over-active ego has turned to autobiography on far slimmer grounds than that. But in spite of its personal and even intimate tone, The Allure of the Archives is never primarily about the author herself. She instead writes about a subjectivity that exists only upon entering the reading room — or perhaps while trying to find it during the first visit. As much as an institution, the archive is, for Farge, the site of a distinct array of experiences. It is defined by rules, habits, worries especially with fragile documents , and a kind of ambient awkwardness that she evokes perfectly.

No one escapes these wandering eyes, not even the most obstinate reader, his face clouded by work. Locating the documents you want requires initiation into the cabala of archival reference numbers.

The part about reference numbers may sound like comic exaggeration. But all of it is just the setting for the necromancy of research — calling up men and women who are long dead and utterly forgotten, speaking for the first time in two or three hundred years. The dossiers Farge explored in her research consisted of police and judicial records as well as reports to His Majesty on what the rabble of Paris were doing and saying from week to week.

They were, in effect, flies on the wall. Also in the files are slanderous and subversive posters with traces of grit clinging to the back after the authorities ripped them down.

Police interrogations transcribed for use during an investigation, then filed away and eventually warehoused document the everyday happenings, criminal and otherwise, of urban life.

Most of those speaking left no other account of their lives. Nor could they; even those who could read a little had not always learned to write. Whatever the project is, work in the archives requires a triage, separation of documents. The question is what to take and what to leave. Knowledge and uncertainty are ordered through an exacting ritual in which the color of the note cards, the strictness of the archivists, and the smell of the manuscripts are trail markers in this world where you are always a beginner.

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It is an unmistakable classic: one of the great memoirs of the silent, day-to-day drama of research. Yet it is not the story of a career. A reader unfamiliar with her name will soon enough recognize that Farge specializes in 18th century social history. She is director of research in modern history at the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, in Paris. It was an edition of selected lettres de cachet from the files of the Bastille. Many an over-active ego has turned to autobiography on far slimmer grounds than that. But in spite of its personal and even intimate tone, The Allure of the Archives is never primarily about the author herself.

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