Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Archives for Future History Reading Group

05 April 2022–14 June 2022, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Attribution: Tatiana Bashinskaya

This reading group responds to questions about the role of archival research, museum and artistic practice in a context of pandemic-related travel restrictions, climate crisis, and moves to decolonise British memory institutions. All of these have highlighted the extent to which traditional practices were dependent on various privileges (mobility, access, time and money).

Event Information

Open to





Pragya Dhital


IAS Forum
G17 Ground Floor, South Wing, UCL
United Kingdom

The meetings are open to all, and we warmly welcome the participation of both academic and non-academic researchers (museum and library workers, family historians, activists and artists) working across disciplines, time periods and regions.

The sessions will have both a theoretical and practical component, and the main focus will be participants’ discussion of their own work. Everyone who takes part is encouraged to bring in a text, object, problem or question to discuss. We also welcome suggestions for further readings, with a view to collectively compiling a list of resources on the reading group theme.

The reading group emerges from Pragya’s archival research on the Indian emergency and proscribed publications in colonial India. The latter was the focus of the 2018 IAS-UCL workshop, “Insurgency in the Archives”, proceedings of which were published in a special section of History Workshop Journal (2020).

The reading group also complements an exhibition she is curating in SOAS art gallery, Crafting Subversion (28 April – 25 June 2022), on Indian radical print and the London émigré ‘origins’ and global spread of the cyclostyle technology used to produce it: the ‘Gestetner’ – as the best-known example of this technology in Britain is known, after its Tottenham-based Hungarian-Jewish inventor.


Tuesday 5 April

Wim Wenders, Der Himmel über Berlin (1987) 

This event has a different time and location

Online and in person at Sands Film Studio, Rotherhithe, 8pm 

Book online and in person tickets at: https://sandsfilms.eventive.org/schedule/6238c49293e6b70029744577 

(Tickets are free but donations to Sands Cinema Club, to continue free access to screenings, are welcome: https://sandsfilms.eventive.org/donate

Tuesday 3 May

The library scene in Himmel über Berlin (viewable on YouTube), Immanuel Kant, “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View” (1784), Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel”(1941) and Andrew Hui, “Dreams of the Universal Library” (2022) 

Location: IAS Forum, 6-8pm 

Tuesday 17 May

Arlette Farge, "Gathering and Handling Documents" in The Allure of the Archives (1989) and Achille Mbembe, “The Power of the Archive and its Limits” (2002)

Please contact Pragya if you have any queries or trouble accessing these texts. 

Location: IAS Forum, 6-8pm 

Tuesday 31 May 

This session has been cancelled

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause

Jacques Derrida, “Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression” (1995)

Location: IAS Forum, 6-8pm 

Tuesday 14 June

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay, "Archives: The Commons, Not the Past" in Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (2020) 

Location: IAS Forum, 6-8pm 

There will also be screenings of Resnais’ Toute la mémoire du monde (1956) and William Kentridge’s City Deep (2020) – details to follow 

Archives for Future History Reading Group is grateful for financial support from the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies and Sands Film Studio. 

All welcome. Please follow this FAQ link for more information. All our events are free but you can support the IAS here.

Photo attribution banner: Tatiana Bashinskaya