Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

What is postmodernism? How can this perspective be used to analyze religious archives, records and archivists in the United States during the 21st century? What can other countries, such as Italy and Russia, reveal about the socio-political conditions surrounding religion and its archival record? And how can these situations be compared to the United States?

These are the main questions I address in my research on religious archival records. Religions have always supported long traditions of record keeping, some dating all the way back to ancient times. My purpose is to understand the postmodern perspective on religion and critique Enlightenment and Modern thinkers, considering that many insisted there was no room for religion in a modern – and certainly not a postmodern - society. Jacques Derrida in his famous work "Archives Fever" speaks about the archive and how it is just a notion until the value of having the records for the future is placed onto it1, but one must also be cautious of how much value is placed on certain records – and more importantly, how those values are defined. Postmodernism intends to critique our society, our ways of thinking and perceptions, to reveal more and various truths. And so, examining the religious archival records of any nation from this perspective can help in uncovering information about their society and culture, not to mention religions association to structures like the state. In examining the ways in which religion has grafted itself onto state structures and become fundamental to parts of society, the postmodernist may find himself realizing that religion is in fact here to stay, simply because it is so deeply embedded within our cultural traditions.

By also utilizing a survey, which includes responses from 90 professional religious archivists across the United States, I apply postmodern critiques to determine whether the religious archival tradition in the United States is healthy enough to support the postmodern opinion that the United States has the best environment for a vivacious religious pluralistic society. By comparing and contrasting these archivists answers, it became evident that religious archivists were no more biased towards religious records, than they were towards non-religious records (i.e. acquisition, arrangement/description, preservation), and these professionals also feel no marginalization within their profession. Even under postmodern scrutiny, this demonstrates that religious communities have learned to befriend the professional community of archivists and are active in attempting to preserve their religious records, their religious identity, and their religious traditions for posterity in the archive.

1Derrida, Jacques. Archives Fever: A Freudian Impression. University of Chicago Press, 1998. P 29

Start Date

6-5-2017 4:30 PM

End Date

6-5-2017 4:45 PM

Location

Miller Hall

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May 6th, 4:30 PM May 6th, 4:45 PM

Religious Archives and the Postmodern Perspective

Miller Hall

What is postmodernism? How can this perspective be used to analyze religious archives, records and archivists in the United States during the 21st century? What can other countries, such as Italy and Russia, reveal about the socio-political conditions surrounding religion and its archival record? And how can these situations be compared to the United States?

These are the main questions I address in my research on religious archival records. Religions have always supported long traditions of record keeping, some dating all the way back to ancient times. My purpose is to understand the postmodern perspective on religion and critique Enlightenment and Modern thinkers, considering that many insisted there was no room for religion in a modern – and certainly not a postmodern - society. Jacques Derrida in his famous work "Archives Fever" speaks about the archive and how it is just a notion until the value of having the records for the future is placed onto it1, but one must also be cautious of how much value is placed on certain records – and more importantly, how those values are defined. Postmodernism intends to critique our society, our ways of thinking and perceptions, to reveal more and various truths. And so, examining the religious archival records of any nation from this perspective can help in uncovering information about their society and culture, not to mention religions association to structures like the state. In examining the ways in which religion has grafted itself onto state structures and become fundamental to parts of society, the postmodernist may find himself realizing that religion is in fact here to stay, simply because it is so deeply embedded within our cultural traditions.

By also utilizing a survey, which includes responses from 90 professional religious archivists across the United States, I apply postmodern critiques to determine whether the religious archival tradition in the United States is healthy enough to support the postmodern opinion that the United States has the best environment for a vivacious religious pluralistic society. By comparing and contrasting these archivists answers, it became evident that religious archivists were no more biased towards religious records, than they were towards non-religious records (i.e. acquisition, arrangement/description, preservation), and these professionals also feel no marginalization within their profession. Even under postmodern scrutiny, this demonstrates that religious communities have learned to befriend the professional community of archivists and are active in attempting to preserve their religious records, their religious identity, and their religious traditions for posterity in the archive.

1Derrida, Jacques. Archives Fever: A Freudian Impression. University of Chicago Press, 1998. P 29