Invalidating the Archive: Interpreting Silences and Inconsistencies

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper questions whether and how the historical narrative that is validated in the institutional archives can be dislocated, while adhering to the scientific requirements of the law faculty in which the authors’ doctoral research is situated. Through a joint auto-ethnography, the authors explore their discomfort and anxieties prompted by the need to interpret silences, inconsistencies, and undertones in official state archives during their archival research on racial thinking in the context of the postcolonial regulation of intimacy. Both researchers struggle with the interpretation of archival silences and inconsistencies, as they attempt to work through the question of how their own positionality deeply influences their interpretation. This gives rise to certain questions around how one understands silence and inconsistency within a specific historical time
and space, and how this might impact the researcher. In responding to such questions, new ways of reading
the archive have been developed within the humanities that aim to uncover the power dynamics inherent
in the production of the archive. In this paper, the authors reflect on the usability of these practices in their
multidisciplinary research environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2019

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