HomeThe logics of the inventory: classifying archives, books, objects (Middle Ages - 19th century)

The logics of the inventory: classifying archives, books, objects (Middle Ages - 19th century)

Logiques de l’inventaire : classer des archives, des livres, des objets (Moyen Âge- XIXe siècle)

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Published on Thursday, September 20, 2018 by Anastasia Giardinelli

Summary

The conference will investigate all sorts of practices related to any document that can non-restrictivly be regarded as an inventory, catalog, index, etc. Inventories are indeed established and used in particular contexts. Each proposes its own particular classification and order, though not always explicitly, so that any ordering and structuring of archives, books or objects deserves to be considered as an innovative and creative action.

Announcement

University of Geneva - October 3-4-5 2019

Presentation

Historians have recently produced insightful and renewed scholarship about archives, books and objects and their modes of preservation over time. Apart from library catalogs, however, this new scholarly interest has rarely taken inventories into account as a specific research object. Inventories have in fact mostly been regarded as a simple tool for retracing the history of the objects listed in them. In the context of a new history of archives and record-making practices, and on the backdrop of the renewal of the history of writing and knowledge at large, this conference aims to deepen our understanding of the logics of the inventory. The conference will investigate all sorts of practices related to any document that can non-restrictivly be regarded as an inventory, catalog, index, etc. Inventories are indeed established and used in particular contexts. Each proposes its own particular classification and order, though not always explicitly, so that any ordering and structuring of archives, books or objects deserves to be considered as an innovative and creative action.

Making an inventory reveals ways of thinking about institutions and seeing the world. Any order results from internal logics and rationalities specific to the actors, the period and the contexts in which they appear. Does the organization of data change over the centuries, how and when do new ways of classifying archives, object etc appear? What are the circumstances that determine the establishment of an inventory, its modification or its complete overhaul? Why, in fact, is an inventory established? Does the sheer volume of writings or objects suffice to impulse the making of an inventory, or it it the diversity of objects and data that implies different ways of managing them?

Do library catalogs, the inventories of private or institutional archives, museum catalogs or private collections follow the same rationale or do they respond to different intellectual logics and objectives? Can we detect ways of listing that are specific to certain data or objects, at certain times and in certain social contexts? What kind of internal links are established between the elements listed in a register? Does the inventory refer to external entities, such as the places and spaces where objects are stored, the place of archives? Does the inventory make the history of the objects it lists, does it refer to other inventories, or to social configurations? What sort of intellectual logic organises them - lists, rhizomic, arborescent, geographical, or? What rationality is at work behind these "metadata"?

Why do some inventories or types of inventories seem immutable and remain in use over a long period of time while others appear and disappear? Though classification is made according to an order that might be alphabetical, thematic, chronological or spatial, it is never a mere mirror. Indeed, the act of inventoryingproduces effects on those who devise, use, read the inventory. To what extent can the intellectual classification of the world produce a practical effect on it? Does the inventory have consequences on the management, use, representation of objects, archives, and books? 

The organizers welcome proposals adressing any issue mentioned above and any other critical reassesment of inventories and inventorying. What about non-inventoried objects, for instance? Why is something left behind while other elements of the same collection are invetoried?

Equally welcomed are proposals that adress the materiality of inventories – what does it reveal about their social environment, their uses, the habits of those who produced them? How does the material layout evolve with use, when it comes to taking into account changes in the collections and objects or writings that are listed therein? What does the layout and materiality reveal of the original objectives of those who made the inventories and how they actually used them? Does material analysis make it possible to account for actual changes in the objects and how these circulated? What are the effects of a specific material form of the inventory (notes, registers, cards) on the modes of preservation of writings, books or other listed objects?

Submission Guidelines

Please send proposals in English or French (half to maximum 1 page)

before December 20, 2018 

to Françoise Briegel (University of Geneva): francoise.briegel@unige.ch et and Silvia Bertolin (University of Geneva): silvia.bertolin@unige.ch

By the end of February 2019, accepted proposals will be notified.

After the conference, a publication may follow.

As far as possible, travel and accomodation costs will be covered by the host institutions.

Organization

Françoise Briegel (Université de Genève); Maria Pia Donato (CNRS, Paris); Valérie Theis (ENS, Paris)

Scientific board

  • Claire Angotti (Université de Reims, Champagne-Ardenne)
  • Aude Argouse (University of Chile Santiago)
  • Jean-François Bert (Université de Lausanne)
  • Françoise Briegel (Université de Genève)
  • Emmanuelle Chapron (Aix-Marseille Université)
  • Maria Pia Donato (CNRS, Paris)
  • Randolph C. Head (University of California Riverside)
  • Olivier Poncet (École nationale des Chartes, Paris)
  • Yann Potin (Archives nationales, Paris 13)
  • Simon Teuscher (Universität Zürich)
  • Valérie Theis (ENS, Paris)
  • Filippo de Vivo (Birkbeck, University of London)

Places

  • Université de Genève, Uni Mail - Bd Carl Vogt - 1211 Genève 4
    Geneva, Switzerland (1206)

Date(s)

  • Thursday, December 20, 2018

Attached files

Keywords

  • Inventaires, archives, matérialité

Contact(s)

  • Françoise Briegel
    courriel : francoise [dot] briegel [at] unige [dot] ch

Information source

  • Françoise Briegel
    courriel : francoise [dot] briegel [at] unige [dot] ch

To cite this announcement

« The logics of the inventory: classifying archives, books, objects (Middle Ages - 19th century) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, September 20, 2018, https://calenda.org/477319

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