Archive Pleasures or Whose Time Is It?


  • Maria Tamboukou University of East London



archives, feminist imaginary, genealogy, hetero­temporalities, letters


In this article, I draw on my experience of doing archival research at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre, University of Texas at Austin and at the archives of the Rodin Museum in Paris. Reflecting on my experience of reading Dora CARRINGTON's and Gwen JOHN's letters, I address the problem of how a researcher makes specific choices while working in the archive: choosing what to see, what to note and even more what to transcribe. These are questions that relate to wider issues of how the researcher can oscillate between pathos and distance and create a transitional space that can accommodate both her involvement and her need for detachment and reflection. What has further emerged from my work in the archives is what I have theorized as heterotemporalities, space/time blocks where women's past is so forcefully contracted in my perception of the present that it becomes a vital part of my actuality as a feminist researcher. I therefore discuss how my experience of working in the archives has created conditions of possibility for transgressing the constraints of the present and has facilitated leaps into open and radical futures, constituting chronotopes of the feminist imaginary.



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Author Biography

Maria Tamboukou, University of East London

Maria TAMBOUKOU (BA, MA, PhD) is Professor of Feminist Studies and Co-director of the Centre of Narrative Research, at the University of East London, UK. Her research interests and publications are in auto/biographical narratives, feminist theories, foucauldian and deleuzian analytics, the sociology of gender and education, gender and space and the sociology of culture. Recent publications include the monographs "In the Fold between Power and Desire: Women Artists' Narratives"; "Nomadic Narratives: Gwen John's Letters and Paintings"; "Visual Lives: Carrington's Letters, Drawings and paintings" and the co-edited collections: "Doing Narrative Research" and "Beyond Narrative Coherence."




How to Cite

Tamboukou, M. (2011). Archive Pleasures or Whose Time Is It?. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(3).



Theoretical and Methodological Reflections on Qualitative Archives and Biographical Research Methods