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Archive Fever - 20 Years On

16 July 2014

Elisabeth Roudinesco and Jacques Derrida, London, 1994 (Image © Elisabeth Roudinesco)

20 years after Jacques Derrida presented Archive Fever, Beverley Butler was invited to discuss the influence of this seminal text at a special event at the Freud Museum, London.

Presented as a gift to the Freud Museum, Jacques Derrida's 1994 lecture Archive Fever, which turned his deconstructionist lens on archiving, remains a compelling work for scholars and artists interested in the relationship between archives, memory, and technology.

On Saturday 12 July the Freud Museum marked the 20th anniversary of this influential lecture with an International Symposium, inviting a number of academics who attended the lecture to recall their memories of it, and offer their interpretations of the work, exploring its continued relevance today.

Prof Carolyn Steedman presenting her paper at the Archive Fever conference at the Freud Museum, 12 July 2014

Beverley Butler, who co-ordinates the Institute's MA in Cultural Heritage Studies, presented a paper entitled 'Heritage Fever, Archival Turns and 'Just Futures' - From Alexandria to Jerusalem' in which she discussed how Derrida’s Archive Fever has influenced her work in the Middle East.

According to Beverley:

  • "My work opens up Derrida’s Archive Fever to explore the broader phenomenon of ‘heritage fever' which is symptomatic of society’s ever increasing concern with origins, past and ancestry. In Jerusalem, archival impulses, memory transmission and heritage discourse are bound up in both violent encounters and aspirations of projecting a better future."

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