, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 349-371
Date: 14 Sep 2012

The footprint and the stepping foot: archival records, evidence, and time

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This paper provides an analysis of the archival concepts of “record” and “evidence” as socio-cultural constructs arising out of a particular view of time. Archival records are usually characterized as having certain relationships to evidence in its temporal aspects—specifically, the requirement for a temporal disconnect between creation and use. This disconnect also necessitates a break between knowledge and the knower in which the record must be externalized and set aside from its creator in order to have “recordness”. This paper explores how Western concepts of time impact concepts of records and archival evidences and proposes an alternative framing. Since records have such power in our lives and societies, practitioners must begin to work with an expanded concept of record and sensitivity to differing time frames and worldviews. The paper proposes a new definition of “record” as an intentional, stable, semantic structure, which is used to identify three broad categories of record types, based on event-orientation or object-orientation, that are flexible enough to account for differing cultural and spiritual understandings of time.