Information Studies


Studying and supporting participatory approaches to archival practice and exploring participatory models for our research

One dimension of our approach within ICARUS is to explore the potential of employing more participatory approaches to archiving and to research. In expressing an interest and commitment to this kind of approach we are in line with recent international developments professionally, in archival education and research and more broadly within society. We recognise there are many different understandings of what forms that participatory approaches to research and archiving might take, from Kate Theimer's Archives Next vision of a collaborative creative practice to Gilliland and McKemmish's ((2014) http://escholarship.org/uc/item/346521tf) more transformative vision for the participatory archive to the examples of independent community-based participation in community archives. But in each of these visions we can identify the benefits of recognising and enabling greater participation by all sections of society (and not just academic or professional participants) in archive and recordkeeping practices with different motivations and results.

In our work with the UK Community Archives and Heritage Group, participation in networks and Centres such as the joint UCL / University of Gothenburg Centre for Critical Heritage Studies and the Community Informatics Research Network and in AHRC funded research projects such as Dig Where We Stand (Flinn et al) as well as PhD studies by Anna Sexton, Alexandra Eveleigh and ongoing by Hannah Ishmael we carry out research with people engaged in participatory archival practices. Where possible we also seek to involve members of different communities (including professional communities of practice) in co-designing and co-producing the research itself so that it meets their needs and interests in addition to more traditional academic benefits and yardsticks and supports a notion of research being a socially useful and impactful activity.