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Bodies of archives / archival bodies: an introduction.

Battaglia, Giulia; Clarke, Jennifer; Siegenthaler, Fiona


Giulia Battaglia

Fiona Siegenthaler


Compared to other disciplines and despite its central role in research practices, the concept of the “archive” has received insufficient critical attention in anthropology until recently. Anthropologists working in collaboration with artists and curators have experimented with forms of archive/archiving, raising important questions about both the collaborative and processual nature of archives. They thereby challenge ideas about the “archive” as a static repository of history. This special section begins with the premise that archives, prone to decay, dissolution, and rearrangement, are permanently in process. This perspective enables us to engage with cleavages and links between past knowledge and future imagination, as well as the role of representation and the anarchive. Our interest is not limited to objects, but also addresses the idea of the body (or collective bodies) as archives of experience, and the archive’s potential for collaborative artistic and ethnographic practices. We ask: What forms of collaborative work does the archive offer? In what ways can the collective sensibility of the archive be explored? What can we gain from a process-based notion of the archive? What implications does this have on the role of the archive in art and anthropology, and for the practices related to it in particular?


BATTAGLIA, B., CLARKE, J. and SIEGENTHALER, F. 2020. Bodies of archives/archival bodies: an introduction. Visual anthropology review [online], 36(1), pages 8-16. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 15, 2020
Online Publication Date Jul 4, 2020
Publication Date Jun 30, 2020
Deposit Date Jul 6, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 6, 2020
Journal Visual anthropology review
Print ISSN 1058-7187
Electronic ISSN 1548-7458
Publisher American Anthropological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 1
Pages 8-16
Keywords Archive; Body; Art; Anthropology; Anarchive
Public URL


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