In recent years, archives and archival practices have attracted significant new interest. Building upon theoretical insights by Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and several post-colonial theorists, ‘archiving’ is now increasingly understood as a foundational cultural operation. The development of routines not only for producing, but also for preserving, collecting, and storing documents of all kind is considered a crucial element of cultural change. In the European case, generally speaking, the centuries after c. 1100 have witnessed a significant and rapid expansion of archival practices. Historians in a number of fields currently study the growing relevance of record-keeping. The realm of politics and administration still holds pride of place, but church archives are also attracting special attention. From a vantage point less centered on institutions, historians explore the interplay between personal identity, life-writing, and archival practices with greater frequency.
This two-day workshop seeks to highlight another vital, but understudied area for the shaping of Europe’s archival culture: economic life. While scholars generally agree, that the economic sphere contributed significantly to how Europe’s specific culture of pragmatic literacy took shape – one might think, e.g., of account books or debt-certificates –, much less attention has thus far been paid to the relationship between economic and archival practices. This conference considers the significance of economic archiving for the rise and shaping of Europe’s archival culture. To do so, we invite papers on topics from the Middle Ages to the contemporary world. As we seek to ask questions pertaining to long-term developments, we are particularly interested in papers on less-studied epochs and phenomena. Submissions should be made by email no later than September 30. All submissions should focus on or, at least, build upon research concerning the everyday relevance of archives for economic activities. “How did archiving and economic activity shape each other?” is going to be one of this conference’s key questions.
Abstracts (750 words), including a title and a short CV, should be send directly to Prof. Markus Friedrich at: