By Joel A. Blanco-Rivera, from Puerto Rico, doctoral student in Archival Studies at the University of Pittsburg, School of Information Sciences, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This summer, as part of the Archival Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh, I will be teaching the course “An International Perspective on Archives.” This will be the first time such course will be taught. Even thought a variety of courses from academic programs in the US include topics that offer an international perspective (with special attention to archival developments in Australia and Canada), a course that focuses completely in global archival theory and practice has been basically non-existent (my search of academic programs in the US did not find a course about international archives). For this reason, I will like to share in this blog my experience developing this course.
This course will introduce students with a diverse number of archival issues analyzed from an international perspective. The development of archival theory and practice, along with the foundation of professional organizations and the development of archival standards has put into perspective the importance contributions from different countries. In addition, recent developments more closely related with issues of access, accountability, and memory offer a great opportunity to understand and appreciate the international contributions to archival studies.
I divided the course into three main sections. First, I will discuss archival history in the 20th century. This will include a discussion about archival thinkers from different countries that have provided significant contributions to archival theory and practice. Second, I will address the topic of international professional organizations, archival standards, and archival education. And finally, the course will analyze how global discourses about postmodernism, post-colonialism, memory and transitional justice challenge traditional ideas about the archive.
A key to the success of this course will be to offer students an opportunity to learn about events and developments from different countries. That’s why students, in addition to the course readings (and reading blogs like this one), will look at a diverse number of case studies. The strategy to accomplish this will be twofold. First, students will discuss in class news, events or any other development related to archives internationally. And second, the class will have guest lectures by archivists with experiences from abroad. Most of these lectures will be accomplished using videoconference. Therefore, I will like to extend the invitation to colleagues that might be interested in being a guest for the class (it does not need to be necessary a video conference, we can plan a podcast or other form of delivery like blogs). Those interested can contact me through the email address above.
It is my intention to share my reflections while teaching this class, so I will be writing more about this in the upcoming months. I am also very interested to hear experiences from archival education programs in other countries. This is part of my strong belief that collaboration in the archival community, including sharing and discussing ideas with colleagues from all parts of the world, is essential to strengthen our profession.