, Volume 11, Issue 1-2, pp 1-12
Date: 09 Mar 2011

Introduction: memory ethics—or the presence of the past in the present

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This special issue of Archival Science examines the orientations, paradoxes, and tensions evident in the ethical struggles over the construction of the past and the degree to which archival agency can intercede in supporting a broadly drawn historical justice that also engages contemporary issues. Inspired and framed by a May 2008 conference hosted by School of Information and Labadie Collection, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the following essays offer case study examinations of how archival institutions and archivists contribute to societal memory systems through both their action and inaction, especially in regard to societal struggles over the meanings to be derived from the past.

A reference to Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of “habitus” which he defines as “that presence of the past in the present.” See his “Social being, time and the sense of existence.” In Bourdieu P (1999), Pascalian meditations Stanford: Stanford University Press, p. 210. Quoted by Stoler AL (2009) Along the archival grain: epistemic anxieties and colonial common sense. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, pp. 38–39. This notion is also expressed in Booth (2006), p. x.