Interrogating the Archive:

Shared Research Methodologies at the Intersection of Aesthetics and Authenticity

Interrogating the Archive is a collaborative research project of humanities researchers and scholars at the University of California, San Diego, which identifies, examines, and addresses the challenges of the archive.

This project endeavors to critically rethink archival practices, exploring the archive not as a passive collection of documents, but as an active and ongoing performance in the construction of historical narratives.

Two central questions-- emerging from the desire to accurately trace the complexity of the lives of marginalized communities, “ethnographic” objects, and unconventional artworks that we study-- guide our research: How can we adequately capture and reflect the variety of our research subjects’ states of vulnerability, precariousness, and absence? How can we identify, analyze, and counteract forms of erasure taking place within the dominant cultural paradigms of archival practice?

This project brings together scholars, artists, writers, archivists, librarians and community members to examine methodological issues within traditional practices of qualitative research. Communities and their cultural objects are often resistant to, or rendered absent from, traditional forms of archiving, categorization and interpretation.

Through a series of reading groups, reader, living bibliography, workshops, public events, and campus colloquia, we are creating a space to collaboratively develop new methodological tools to address the narratives, objects, ideas and experiences that are crucial for our life and projects.

Please join our mailing list at for information on our upcoming 2019 events!

Image: Walid Raad (The Atlas Group), Type A: Authored Files, Notebooks 001, Saudi Arabia, Page 4