Information Studies


Community and participative approaches to archival practice

This research area is concerned with the impact that archives (and cultural heritage more generally) make on individuals and communities. In particular it focuses on the impact of archives, and access to archives, in terms of individual and community identity, and on the wider social outcomes that flow from the interaction between heritage and identity. Particular interest centres on the archives of grass-roots, diasporic or marginalised groups and how these archives might best be preserved. Difficult questions of ownership, custody, professional responsibility and accessibility are among those studied. Some of this work has been carried out in association with the Community Archives Heritage Group but, most notably, these issues have been explored as part of an AHRC-funded 20 month research project on the role and impact of community heritage / archive initiatives within Black and Minority Ethnic communities.

There is also a need for more empirical data about the wider impact of archives and their place in the economic and social life of local communities, regions and nations, and for evaluation and interpretation of those data. This is closely related to the study of diversity and archives: not only diversity of use and users but also diversity of collections and diversity in the workforce. Recent work includes collaboration with the UK National Council on Archives (NCA) on evaluating the Archives Awareness Campaign and assessing the influence of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the ‘heritage’ agenda on the duties and responsibilities of archivists.

Research projects in this area include:
Arts & Humanities Research Council, Andrew Flinn (PI) and Elizabeth Shepherd (Co-I), 'Community archives and identities: documenting and sustaining community heritage', 2007-2009.
National Council on Archives, Andrew Flinn, 'Evaluation of the NCA Archives Awareness Campaign', 2006.
British Academy Small Grant, Andrew Flinn and Louise Ray (NCA), 'Archival culture in the 21st century', 2007.

Recent papers in this area:
Flinn,A. (2007). 'Community Histories, Community Archives: Some Opportunities and Challenges.' Journal of the Society of Archivists 28(2), 151-176.
Flinn,A. (2008). 'Other Ways of Thinking, Other Ways of Being. Documenting the Margins and the Transitory: What to Preserve, How to Collect' Chapter 6 in Craven,L (ed.) What are Archives? Cultural and Theoretical Perspectives. Aldershot: Ashgate, 109-128. ISBN: 9780754673101
Flinn, A. (2008) ‘Migrations, disputed heritages and multicultured identities: archives in post-colonial societies’ Archives and Manuscripts 36 (2), 54-75
Flinn, A. (2008). 'Archives and their communities: serving the people', COMMA 2008-1, 157-168.
Flinn, A., Pick, G. (2009). ‘Diversifying and democratising archive collections – an agenda for transformation’, in the Mayor’s Commission on African and Asian Heritage, Embedding Shared Heritage: The Heritage Diversity Task Force Report, London: GLA
Flinn, A., Stevens, M. (2009). '“It is noh mistri, wi mekin histri” . Telling Our Own Story: Independent and Community Archives in the United Kingdom, Challenging and Subverting the Mainstream.' Bastian, J. & Alexander, B. (eds.) Community Archives. The shaping of memory. London: Facet Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85604-639-8
Flinn, A., Stevens, M., Shepherd, E. (2009). 'Whose memories, whose archives? Independent community archives, autonomy and the mainstream.' Archival Science 9(1-2), 71-86 DOI 10.1007/s10502-009-9105-2
Stevens, M., Flinn, A., Shepherd, E. (2010) 'New frameworks for community engagement in the archive sector: from handing over to handing on.' International Journal of Heritage Studies Volume 16 Issues 1 & 2, 59-76 DOI: 10.1080/13527250903441770
Flinn, A.(2010) ‘The impact of independent and community archives on professional archival thinking and practice.’ Hill,J. (ed) The Future of Archives and Recordkeeping, London: Facet Publishing
Flinn, A.(2011), ‘Archival activism. Independent and community-led archives, radical public history and the heritage professions’. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies Volume 7, Issue 2. Available here