Archival CIty Seminar

The multi-annual seminar Archival city brings together researchers and professionals from the worlds of documentation and conservation who are interested in the production and uses of reference corpus concerning the history and planning of cities.

The Archival city seminar aims to develop exchanges between those who preserve and those who use city archives, at a time when the digital revolution is leading to a rethinking of the modes of production, access and processing of corpuses.

Although the increasing technicality of the preservation professions leads to the dissociation of the language of archivists and historians, the need to strengthen research tools is nonetheless essential to both, out of respect for the source and its possibilities of dissemination. The social role of the historian and the city archivist is to make accessible corpora whose production and collection process has been explained beforehand. It is not a question of guaranteeing their impossible objectivity, but of preventing them from becoming data without context, justifying any instrumentalisation in the public space. At a time when most urban legacies are being debated on a municipal or global scale, the co-construction of an ethical discourse on urban archives by archivists and researchers appears to be a major citizen objective.

The final objective of the Archival City programme, which is to bring professionals of the past closer to cities and actors of the urban future, involves the invention of a new epistemology of urban historical data, the need for which is unquestionable at a time when the great fears about the city are being revived and a catastrophism which, depending on the case, either idealizes or demonizes the urban past. If the production of the city of tomorrow cannot spare the use of history, the role of researchers and archivists is to make available solid corpuses of data endowed with metadata whose rigour and readability must be indisputable. 

To approach this objective, the Archival city seminar proposes to think by case: of the city, of the corpus, of data processing and even more of urban planning issues. The six fields of study (Algiers, Bologna, Chiang Mei, Jerusalem, Paris, Quito) and the six questions of the Archival city programme (colonial archives, temporalities of the archives of an ancient city, archives of the ephemeral city, archives of a world city, archives of the processes of metropolization, archives of urban resilience) will serve as examples to which the seminar will provide both a space for exhibiting work in progress and a space for confrontation with other fields or other current or past urban issues (metabolism, circular economy, the ordinary fabric of the city, pollution, municipalism, urban democracy, etc.). ) but also current archival issues (data modelling, interoperability of sources, evolution of legal and technical standards, digitisation of collections, etc.) or the treatment of collections (augmented archival reality, recognition of data on massive iconographic collections, etc.).

Each session is organized around a theme and one or more fields that can be dealt with. The debate is central and co-constructed by researchers and conservation professionals, who give and bring together their questions and working methods. Papers are used to disseminate the main perspectives of the different sessions and to make them accessible through the Archival City notebook.

The Archival City seminar is supported by the research laboratories of the members of the Archival City teams and by the transversal groups of the Labex Futurs Urbains, « Inventer le Grand Paris » and « Usages de l’histoire et devenirs urbains ».

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