An Inventory of Traces: Rethinking public archives and collections beyond the nation/state

Harbison, Isobel. 2022. 'An Inventory of Traces: Rethinking public archives and collections beyond the nation/state'. In: Association for Art History’s 48th Annual Conference. Goldsmiths, University of London/ online, United Kingdom 6 - 8 April 2022. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Taking as its basis the current absence of a national museum for the collection and preservation of works of modern and contemporary art in Northern Ireland / the north of Ireland (NI), this session invited papers by participants and scholars considering processes, methodologies or architectures of collecting, archiving and conservation across global territories, and particularly within sites of historical geopolitical conflict and/or where constituents have complex and contested relationships to the state. The panel asked how we might collect, classify and preserve art works, gestures and traces of historical and social importance that sit within a territory but beyond the current remit or sole paradigm of a national collection, or the institutions that are formed and informed by a singular state apparatus? How do we create inventories to accommodate the traces, within artworks, of complex historical processes? How do we build such inventories through and with the communities that have produced and shaped them? How do we provide both safe spaces for and access to archive materials vital to a territory’s cultural heritage within an unstable landscape of highly changeable political policies and agendas?

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Panel)


archives; nation state; national museums; national collections; post-colonial; anti-imperial; feminist

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6 April 2022Completed

Event Location:

Goldsmiths, University of London/ online, United Kingdom

Date range:

6 - 8 April 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Jan 2023 15:59

Last Modified:

05 Jan 2023 15:59


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