Collections in Flux

Collections in Flux: the dynamic spaces and temporalities of collecting

May 9-10, 2014

Organizers: Adriana  Craciun (UC Riverside) and Mary Terrall (UCLA)

Location: UCLA Clark Library

This interdisciplinary conference explores how collections shift their meanings and uses with motion through time and space, as well as how layers of meanings can inhabit a single collection in a specific time and place.  We hope to bring new light to bear on how spaces of display and representation mapped onto geographical and political spaces, and how concerns about permanence and stability shaded rapidly into dissolution and reorganization and, sometimes, re-use. As “Collections in Flux” will demonstrate, the activity of collecting becomes more than the expression of curiosity, the desire for order, or the policing of boundaries. Collections in flux, considered dynamically and globally, through the agency of Europeans and indigenous people, can become a forum for rethinking the relation of centers to peripheries, of alien and native, of exotic and mundane.

Keynote Speakers:

Miles Ogborn, Professor and Head of School of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London

Nicholas Thomas, Professor of Anthropology and Director, Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge University

Conference Participants:

Malcolm Baker, UC Riverside

Adriana Craciun, UC Riverside

Lucia Dacome, University of Toronto

Alessa Johns, UC Davis

Stacy Kamehiro, UC Santa Cruz

Mi Gyung Kim, North Carolina State University

Stacey Sloboda, Southern Illinois University

Mary Terrall, UCLA

Conference details and registration information will be available on the webpages of the UCLA Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies and the Clark Library. This conference is organized in collaboration with the University of California Multi-campus Research Group on “The Material Cultures of Knowledge, 1500-1830.”

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The Social Logics of Global Archives

On May 7th I attended the first event of the new Global Archivalities Research Network. This was a virtual conference hosted over Adobe Connect, with a viewing location in the UC Riverside History Library. The group is organized by Dr. Randolph Head of University of California, Riverside, Dr. Arndt Brendecke of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, and Dr. Hilde De Weerdt of Kings College London. The digital aspect of the conference allowed many other scholars from across the globe to join, which added greatly to the international scope and diversity of archives that were discussed.

Thanks to the steady hand of fellow UCR graduate student, Heather Van Mouwerik, the technological aspect of the conference went off without a hitch. Van Mouwerik spent many hours in the weeks preceding the conference ensuring that all technological details were considered. Most virtual workshops or conferences are a one-to-many format, meaning that one presenter maintains control of the video and audio, and audience participation is limited to textual responses. However, with presenters in California, Munich, Madrid, and London, there was a definite need for a more complex video conferencing arrangement.

There are many video conferencing services, but none of them fit the needs of this workshop exactly. Using Adobe Connect, Van Mouwerik was able to maintain control of bandwidth by manually promoting each speaker to the primary position, and demoting others to view-only status as needed. Also, Van Mouwerik made sure that the workshop could be digitally recorded. The video recording should be made available soon at, allowing participants to review the material, and other interested scholars to engage in the content after the fact.

The title for this event was “Global Archivalities: A Conceptual Workshop,” and the most contentious portion of the virtual conference was the usage of the term “archivalities” itself. The word archivalities is meant to convey a sense of process and movement through the study of various archives of all forms, and through all parts of the historical record. The grand scope and inclusiveness of the project is the major factor in calling for such a term, and archivalities is a difficult but perhaps necessary starting point. Even the notion of the archive itself carries a Western connotation (not to mention Weberian and Foucauldian notions of state bureaucracy and institutional power), and in other languages the use of archivality or the suffix “ality” could present confusion. Other similar terms have been showing up in academic circles lately, such as documentality and spectrality, so perhaps archivality could find a toehold, however tenuous it might be at the moment.

Throughout the conference many of the presenters were moving toward a common goal of reconsidering archives and archival practices throughout history. Archives are not necessarily a representation of state power, and collections of artifacts and documents are not always considered an archive at the time of their assembly. Dr. Diego Navarro Bonilla spoke of the need to consider “little” archives as well as the larger bureaucratic ones, and he also touched on the importance of archives as a place of both creation and destruction. In line with this notion of destruction, De Weerdt expressed that archives can also be considered as a process or strategy for coping with loss. Archived documents could themselves be destroyed, and in the wake of devastating events, such as a natural disaster or the death of an individual, archives could also be a form of collective memory.


Dr. Hilde De Weerdt presenting at the Global Archivalities Research Network virtual conference.

The inclusive nature of this research group allowed for scholars located across the world to participate, and it also provided for a wide range of historical reference. The archives discussed included collections of ninth century Japanese scrolls, the examination system in thirteenth century imperial China, the legal archives carried by judges in the Middle East prior to the year 1500, as well as early modern European archives. Such a broad range of archival material greatly enriched the discussion, adding a sense of wonder to the possibilities for comparative study.

Most interesting in the discussion was the idea put forth by Dr. Konrad Hirschler that each archive carries its own “social logic.” As historians we must be careful to not privilege materials that have been archived in the Western sense over non-traditional archives (such as a collection of Inca quipus), or even non-archived archives (such as a genizah). This notion of “social logic” means that we must consider how and why the collection of materials came to be, and the thought processes surrounding their assembly. The “social logics” of the archives are especially important, because there is no way to study all the archives across the globe. However, historians can compare the “social logics” of archives in a broader sense. If scholars can “consider the archive in a much more creative way,” as proposed by Hirschler, new social connections and new opportunities for research will emerge.

This event was sponsored by the University of California Multi-Campus Research Group “Material Cultures of Knowledge, 1500-1800,” funded by the University of California Humanities Network and the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

Cross-posted at:

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“Global Archivalities” event available online

The transcript of the May 7th workshop, “Global Archivalities: A Conceptual Workshop,” is now available on line. It includes the video, audio, and chat from the entire workshop. You can also access it from the Events page on the website

“Global Archivalities” was organized by Professor Randolph Head and supported by the “Material Cultures of Knowledge” MRG. The next Global Archivalities event is planned for September in Munich, in connection with the major conference of the Arbeitsgruppe Frühe Neuzeit.

May 7 Participating Faculty:
Konrad Hirschler, SOAS London
Diego Navarro Bonilla, Universidad Carlos III Madrid
Bryan Lowe, Vanderbilt
Christian Speer, Universität Wittenberg
John-Paul Ghobrial, Balliol College Oxford
Natalie Rothman, University of Toronto
Markus Friedrich, Universität Frankfurt A.M, Max Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte Berlin
Eric Ketelaar, Universiteit Amsterdam, Emeritus; Director Emeritus, National Archives of the Netherlands
Jacob Soll, USC
Hilde de Weerdt, University College, London
Arndt Brendecke, Universität München
Filippo de Vivo, Birkbeck College, London
Graduate Students:
Ron Makloff, Berkeley
Patrick O’Neill, UCR
Benjamin Esswein, UCR
Colin Whiting, UCR
Steven Anderson, UCR
Heather Van Mouwerik, UCR
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Announcing: Global Archivalities Research Network

The Global Archivalities Network is a project launched by Randolph Head (University of California, Riverside), Arndt Brendecke (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) and Hilde de Weerdt (Kings College London). We seek to connect and recruit humanists in all disciplines interested in the comparative history of archives before the modern era. The founders specialize in what may be called early modernity in various parts of the world, but we welcome those working on all forms of systematic record-keeping in any period.

Please contact Randy Head ( for further information.

A first event, entitled Global Archivalities: A Conceptual Workshop, will take place (with attendance via Adobe Connect) on May 7, 2013 from 9-11 AM (PDT).

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New Faculty Book: Vital Matters: Eighteenth-Century Views of Conception, Life, and Death

Vital Matters: Eighteenth-Century Views of Conception, Life, and Death

Edited by Helen Deutsch and Mary Terrall

Published by Toronto University Press, 2012

Eighteenth-century questions about the properties essential to life often explored the boundary between the physical world of the body and the immaterial world of the mind and soul. Locating materialism within the larger history of ideas, Vital Matters examines how and why eighteenth-century scientists, philosophers, writers, and artists questioned nature and its animating principles.

In this volume, interdisciplinary essays by premier scholars in literary studies, art history, and the history of science and medicine analyse a wide range of subjects, including ghosts and funerary practices, dissection and digestion, automata, and monstrous births. Featuring new approaches to literary texts such as Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy and paintings such as Girodet’s Eternal Sleep, as well as new research on cases from the history of medicine and the history of science, Vital Matters reconsiders Enlightenment oppositions between body and mind, brain and soul, life and death, and the physical and the abstract.

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Global Archivalities: A Conceptual Workshop

Sponsored by the University of California Multicampus Research Group on The Material Cultures of Knowledge  and UCHRI

May 7, 2013, 9-11 AM, PDT

Archives play a fundamental role in historical research, yet archivality as a human cultural product subject to enormous variation has received little comparative attention. By forming a collaborative network of humanistic scholars interested in investigating the formation, use, and representation of archives around the globe in the pre-modern period, we seek to promote shared understandings of the decisive theoretical and empirical issues that the comparative study of pre-modern archivality must address. A second goal is to highlight the many research opportunities that the comparative study of archivality can offer, and to help create a supportive network of junior as well as senior humanists that can promote such research.

Convenors: Randolph Head (UC Riverside), Arndt Brendecke (Munich), Hilde de Weerdt (King’s College London).

Participants will include, among others: Filippo de Vivo (Birkbeck College London), Konrad Hirschler (SOAS, London), Diego Navarro Bonilla (Madrid) and Jacob Soll (USC).

Location: The workshop will be available over the internet via Adobe Connect.

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Oceanic Enterprise: Location, Longitude, and Maritime Cultures 1770-1830


Conference at Huntington Library, Jan. 25-26, 2013:

Oceanic Enterprise: Location, Longitude, and Maritime Cultures 1770-1830

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CFP: “Risk, Crisis, Speculation: 1500-1800″

Risk, Crisis, Speculation: 1500-1800

Conference Date: February 9, 2013 / Abstracts Due: December 2, 2012

The Early Modern Center at University of California, Santa Barbara invites proposals for our twelfth annual conference, “Risk, Crisis, Speculation: 1500-1800.” This one-day conference will be held on Saturday, February 9th, and feature keynote speaker Joseph Roach (Yale University).

This conference is being hosted in conjunction with a one-day UC multi-campus research group symposium on “Shakespeare & Risk,” which will take place on UCSB’s campus on Friday, February 8th, and feature keynote speaker Richard Halpern (New York University). Conference attendees and presenters are cordially invited to attend both Friday’s and Saturday’s events.

Contemporary discussions of “risk” or “speculation” often identify these concepts as distinguishing features of modern or postmodern societies. In this conference, we seek to explore and investigate early modern English cognates, forebears, and analogues of “risk” (including, but not limited to, “hazard” and “venture”). We hope for a range of presentations investigating religious, economic, political, or environmental aspects of risk in early modern literature and history.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to: maritime trade and the rise of insurance; mathematics and the early history of probability; civic and political crises and governmental intervention; environmental and social crises (plague, famine, etc.) and their “management”; gambling, play, and games of chance; erotic and romantic exposure; religious reform and upheaval; conversion and the specter of apostasy; hermeneutics and reading; the stigma of print and publication; violence and the vulnerability of the body.

Please send abstracts, 250-500 words in length, to by December 2, 2012. Feel free to contact Christopher Foley at with specific questions.

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Scholarship 2013-2014 (UCHRI)


Andrew Vincent White and Florence Wales White Graduate Student Scholarship 2013-14


Who Can Apply: UC graduate students working on a dissertation project in the Humanities and Medicine or in the Theoretical Social Sciences and Medicine
Level of Award: Up to $20,000. Awards are contingent upon available funding.
Funding Source: UCHRI

Deadline: February 13, 2013 (11:59 pm PST). Apply online via FastApps (opens on November 28, 2012).

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Public Lecture: “The Seeds of Disaster: Relic Hunting and Scientific Exploration”

“The Seeds of Disaster: Relic Hunting and Scientific Exploration”

a public lecture by Professor Adriana Craciun (University of California, Riverside)

Friday 12 Oct. 2012

5:00 pm in 300 Wheeler Hall, UC Berkeley

Reception to follow

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