1st Edition

Archival Silences Missing, Lost and, Uncreated Archives

Edited By Michael Moss, David Thomas Copyright 2021
    272 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    272 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Archival Silences demonstrates emphatically that archival absences exist all over the globe. The book questions whether benign ‘silence’ is an appropriate label for the variety of destructions, concealment and absences that can be identified within archival collections.

    Including contributions from archivists and scholars working around the world, this truly international collection examines archives in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, England, India, Iceland, Jamaica, Malawi, The Philippines, Scotland, Turkey and the United States. Making a clear link between autocratic regimes and the failure to record often horrendous crimes against humanity, the volume demonstrates that the failure of governments to create records, or to allow access to records, appears to be universal. Arguing that this helps to establish a hegemonic narrative that excludes the ‘other’, this book showcases the actions historians and archivists have taken to ensure that gaps in archives are filled. Yet the book also claims that silences in archives are inevitable and argues not only that recordkeeping should be mandated by international courts and bodies, but that we need to develop other ways of reading archives broadly conceived to compensate for absences.

    Archival Silences addresses fundamental issues of access to the written record around the world. It is directed at those with a concern for social justice, particularly scholars and students of archival studies, history, sociology, international relations, international law, business administration and information science.


    Michael Moss and David Thomas

    1. Theorising the Silences

    Michael Moss and David Thomas

    2. What are silences: the Australian example

    Michael Piggott

    3. Silent contemporary records: access to the archives of Special Investigation Commission in Iceland, 2010-2019

    Eiríkur G. Guðmundsson

    4. Noises in the Archives: Acknowledging the Present Yet Silenced Presence in Caribbean Archival Memory

    Stanley H. Griffin

    5. Silenced and Unsilenced Memories: Archival Fonds of Brazil’s Political Police, 1964-1985

    Renato Pinto Venancio and Adalson de Oliveira Nascimento

    6. Uncovering Silences Through Photographs and Listening:

    Envisioning Archives as a Democratic Space

    Iyra S. Buenrostro

    7. Silences in Malawi’s Archives

    Paul Lihoma

    8. Perceived Silence in the Turkish Archives: from the Ottoman Empire to Modern Republic

    Lale Özdemir and Oğuz İcimsoy

    9. Silenced Archives and Archived Voices: Archival Resources for a History of Post-Independence India

    Swapan Chakravorty

    10. The Voices of Children and Adolescents in the Archives

    Mette Seidelin and Christian Larsen

    11.Diaries and Silence

    Polly North

    12. Filling the Gaps

    Michael Moss and David Thomas

    Afterword: Tales from the Sometimes ‘Silent’ Archives

    David D. Hebb


    Michael Moss was professor emeritus of archival science at the University of Northumbria, he was previously research professor in archival studies in the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute at the University of Glasgow, where he directed the Information Management and Preservation MSc programme.

    David Thomas was employed at the UK National Archives for most of his career, acting as Director of Technology from 2005 until his retirement in 2013. Subsequently he was a visiting professor at Northumbria University.