Archive Pleasures or Whose Time Is It?

Maria Tamboukou


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.



archives; feminist imaginary; genealogy; hetero­temporalities; letters

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Copyright (c) 2011 Maria Tamboukou

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