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Common archives: Manipulating the enemy's images / Jan van Eyck Academie

Imaginary property // Intervention #2 18.04.2009 Design department at Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Holland

As violence becomes more reasoned, as nationhood becomes more "global", as the artifacts of memory become more manipulable, and as their manufacture and dissemination becomes more ubiquitous –research and theory in this field find themselves in constant lag of its ever-changing objects.

As memory and trauma study literature and research grows in acceleration, so grows the need for a robust theoretical paradigm for social memory research. Such a paradigm does not exist today. Most memory research does not extend comparatively beyond particular geographies, historical periods and events. In the absence of a widely agreed theoretical paradigm, most theoretical work done today on memory and trauma falls within either one of two categories: either it is highly event-specific, remaining too close to empirical ground level, or it is highly philosophical and speculative, leaving actual research far below its scope.

The wider task envisioned by the project is to theorize the fundamental notion of Archive in such a manner as to provide a historiographic paradigm both for the empirical recording of historical narrative data and wide perspective theory building.

Building on notions such as Foucault's Status de Verite, Derrida's Anarchive and Jean Piaget's Constancy and Conservation, we wish to forge the Common Archive - a new archive format dedicated to bridging dissociated, conflictual, or historically dispersed or geographically distant historical narratives.

The Common Archive concept also aims to challenge and transcend the binary oppositions constraining the structure of the traditional archive as such, e.g. victims/perpetrators, dominating/domineer, male/female, manager/employee, colonizer/colonized in order to propose ways of creating common narratives, acknowledging that such a combination is the base for future narrative and therefore a condition for a true understanding of any conflict and further of potentially bridging conflicts.

Going further than a mere new theoretical concept, the wider context of this project aims to create a suitable methodology for constructing Common Archives, as well as specifying the technical requirements for what we term a Common Archive Data Architecture.

Imaginary Property, a research project of the Design department at Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Holland