The fetish of archives

Hogenraad, Robert
January 2014
Quality & Quantity;Jan2014, Vol. 48 Issue 1, p425
Academic Journal
Archives are primary sources of information for biographers, historians and social scientists. Yet the question about archives is how much information we overlook or transform: fiction and facts often interplay. We pinned a related question about the moral lesson present or not in archives. Do annals, chronicles, or histories settle or merely end accounts? Coupling authority and moral lesson in texts provides a way of linking archives of different degrees of accuracy: annals, chronicles, and histories. We identified the same series of events covered on three supports, as tapes, as memoir, and as film. The events in question concern the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. We ran a computer-aided content analysis of these textual data and used words into assessing, first, the risk of conflict in the data, then the mood present in the data. Pure archives, such as tapes, do not succeed in reenacting nonverbal events. It is as if only fiction or imagination, in chronicles or stories, could do justice to a 3D reality and allow it to become history by naturalizing that reality.


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