Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association

OVERLAPPING TEMPORALITIES – THE JUDGE, THE HISTORIAN AND THE CITIZEN

Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association (2017), 52, (134), 51–66.

Abstract

This article discusses an issue of increasing relevance to archivists – the temporality of archives. It describes the breakdown of the traditional model in which records are first used for current (often legal) purposes and are then transferred to the archives where they are no longer used for current purposes but for purely historical ones. This neat process is rapidly breaking down, partly because of changes in legal processes – the end of the ban on double jeopardy and cold case reviews but also because many more recent records are being made available in archives, while Freedom of Information legislation is also having an impact. More importantly, there has been an increase in the number of public inquiries which are investigating large scale and horrendous tragedies which occurred in or near contemporary time. These developments are dragging records back from the archives and into the realm of the courts of law in unprecedented numbers. At the same time, the internet has had the effect of creating a wholly new form of archive which operates simultaneous in both current and historical time. The changing nature of the archive presents radical challenges both to archivists and to governments. It cries out for engagement by the archival profession, whose territory is being colonised by other disciplines.

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Details

Author details

Moss, Michael

Thomas, David